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Labor and the
Savannah River AEC Project

I—Manpower and Wages
II— Unionization and Industrial Relations
III— Housing and Changes in Population
IV— Community Facilities and Social Changes

Bulletin No. 1100
M aurice J. T o b in , Secretary

w a n


l a g u e




Labor and the
Savannah River AEC Project

I—Manpower and Wages
II—Unionization and Industrial Relations
III— Housing and Changes in Population
IV— Community Facilities and Social Changes

Bulletin No. 1100
M a u r ic e J. T o b i n , Secretary
Ew an

Cl a g u e ,

Com m issioner

For sale by the Superintendent o f Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D . C.

Price 25 cents


Letter of Transmittal

n i t e d



t a t e s


e p a r t m e n t

u r e a u

o f


o f

a b o r


a b o r


t at is t ic s


Washington , D . C., September 23, 1952 .

The S e c r e t a r y o f L a b o r :
I have the honor to transmit herewith a study examining the effect upon the
surrounding communities of the construction of the Savannah River atomic
energy project in South Carolina.
The study was made in November 1951 and appeared first as a series of
four articles in the June, July, August, and September 1952 issues of the
Monthly Labor Review. The question it attempts to answer is: What is the
effect upon manpower, community facilities, and existing relationships when
suddenly inundated by a new tributary labor force? It is hoped that the
facts presented will helpfully guide appropriate officials when confronted with
similar problems in other areas.
The four parts of the present bulletin deal with manpower, wages, and
recruitment; unionization and industrial relations; housing and population
shifts; and community facilities and social changes.
The study was made by M. Mead Smith of the Bureau’s Office of
E w a n
C l a g u e , Commissioner .
Hon. M a u r i c e J. T o b i n ,

Secretary of Labor.
( i n



In trod u ction ________________________________________________________________________________________


T h e site and its surrounding com m unities________________________________________________


Operation of the p ro ject--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


M an pow er and w ages______________________________________________________________________



O ver-all p roject em p lo ym en t-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


M an u al workers on the p ro ject____________________________________________________________


W ages and working condition s_______________________________________________________



R ecruitm ent of the labor force_______________________________________________________


N on m an u al project w orkers-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


E m p lo ym e n t of N egroes____________________________________________________________________


E ffect on the local labor m arket___________________________________________________________
Clerical workers and com m on lab o r_________________________________________________


Skilled construction w orkers----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Other occupations______________________________________________________________________


C ost of liv in g _________________________________________________________________________________
Unionization and industrial relations----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Project labor-m anagem ent relations______________________________________________________


R ole of A E C ____________________________________________________________________________


M an agem en t p olicy____________________________________________________________________


Union a c tiv ity __________________________________________________________________________


Industrial disputes_____________________________________________________________________


Organization before the p ro ject___________________________________________________________


Changes in building trades organization--------------------------------------------------------------------------


N ew organizational arrangem ents------------------------------------------------------------------------------


E ffect on A ugusta unions_____________________________________________________________


Relations between unions_____________________________________________________________


Negro m em bership_____________________________________________________________________


E ffect on other workers_____________________________________________________________________


H ousing and changes in p op u lation-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

A E C p olicy -

- 2



Project workers’ hou sing___________________________________________________________________
E xisting structures and private trailers-------------------------------------------------------------------N e w construction___________________________________________________________________


T em porary housing____________________________________________________________________


E ffect on local housing conditions________________________________________________________


Population changes in the area____________________________________________________________


Site residents___________________________________________________________________________


D istribution of S R P workers in N o v e m b e r-------------------------------------------------------------


Long-range expectations______________________________________________________________


C o m m u n ity facilities and social changes_____________________________________________


C o m m u n ity facilities________________________________________________________________________


Planning p roblem s_____________________________________________________________________


IV —

M unicipal services^____________________________________________________________________




H o sp itals________________________________________________________________________________


Com m ercial facilities__________________________________________________________________


Social problem s and changes_______________________________________________________________


Social p roblem s_________________________________________________________________________
Social and cultural ch an ges------------------------------------------------------------------------------------M a p of Savannah R iver P lan t A rea___________________________________________________________



Labor and the Savannah River AEC Project

lished communities. The 315-square-mile tract,
to be sold to the Government and evacuated by
mid-1952, was largely woods or cut-over land,
sparsely populated; of the 5,000 to 6,000 site
residents, some 800 lived in Ellenton or Dunbarton,
the only towns located on the site proper. At
varying distances of 20 to 30 miles around the
project were a number of small South Carolina
communities and, across the river in Georgia,1
Augusta, the area’s only relatively large city.
Outside Augusta, agriculture predominated, and a
very high proportion of the area’s population was
Augusta, population 72,000 in 1950, was already
undergoing a rapid business expansion similar to
its wartime boom at the time of the SRP announce­
ment, due chiefly to the reactivation of nearby
Camp Gordon in mid-1950 as well as to several
other Government installations in the city.
Though still primarily dependent on farm produc­
tion, Augusta had a number of industrial concerns
and the Chamber of Commerce had long promoted
further development; in early 1948, work had
begun on Clark Hill Dam near Augusta, first of a
projected series of Federally constructed dams on
the Savannah River. North Augusta, with some
2,600 residents in 1950, was virtually a suburb of
Augusta although located in South Carolina.
Augusta had several large textile mills but the
major portion of textile manufacturing, the area’s
main industry, was located along the Horse Creek
Valley in South Carolina between Augusta and
Aiken, largest of the South Carolina communities
affected. Aiken’s main economic activity other
than agriculture was serving the “winter resort
crowd”—owners of large estates and winter train­
ing stables—for which the town had long been
well known. In recent years the town had beeni

Announcement late in 1950 by the Atomic
Energy Commission (AEC) that its largest instal­
lation would be constructed near Aiken, S. C.,
brought considerable speculation and apprehension
as to its effect on local institutions and practices,
especially regarding business, labor, and commu­
nity facilities. As the months passed, stories of
local dislocation from the so-called “H-bomb
plant” were widespread. In an effort to evaluate
the extent of such dislocation during the first year
following the announcement, the writer in Novem­
ber 1951 interviewed local representatives of labor,
business groups, Government, and civic organiza­
tions, as well as individual residents. Facts on
project practices were obtained from Arthur L.
Tackman, assistant manager of AEC’s Savannah
River Operations Office, and other AEC personnel.
Peak construction activity on the Savannah
River Plant (SRP) was still 6 to 8 months off at
that time, but the project’s effect on local labor
conditions appeared to have been less than had
been rumored, and later information suggests that
the over-all picture did not alter sharply during the
months immediately following. Local employ­
ment and wage patterns had not changed markedly
by November 1951, although building-trades unions
had increased their membership, and housing and
community facilities were heavily taxed. The
concurrent expansion of nearby Camp Gordon
contributed substantially to the changes in work­
ing and living conditions which had occurred.
The Site and Its Surrounding Communities . AEC’s
announcement of the SRP on November 28, 1950,
noted that the South Carolina location had been
selected primarily because it met technical and
defense requirements, notably for space. The
Commission’s decision not to establish a “Govern­
ment town” also necessitated a site near estab­

i T h e location of bridges across th e river at A ugusta lim ited major S R P
im p a ct on Georgia com m u nities to A ugusta. C onstruction of an additional
bridge below A ugusta w as under consideration before the project announce­
m en t an d th e subject of contin uing controversy, b u t w as n o t in prospect in
N ovem ber 1951.



slowly “dying on the vine,” as many estates were
sold or closed; a few leading citizens saw indus­
trialization as the solution for this economic decline
and had raised funds shortly before the SEP
announcement to bring in some outside industry,
but most residents resisted any change which
might destroy the traditional atmosphere. Prom­
inent citizens of Barnwell, population 2,000, also
favored industrialization, and an industrial cor­
poration had a year or two earlier brought in a
small zipper manufacturing company from New
York—the town’s second manufacturing estab­
lishment. The other communities affected—
Allendale (population 2,500 in 1950), Blackville
(1,300), and Williston (900)— neither had indus­
try nor desired change, although the recent
routing of a new highway through Allendale had
expanded business there somewhat.
Operation oj the Project. Thirty percent of the
land for the project had been purchased between
January and November 1951 and nearly twothirds of the remainder had been appraised.
Dirt removal had started in February and by
November work was going on at a number of
widely separated construction areas, each a major
construction job in itself. The AEG owned all
SRP lands and buildings and set over-all policies,
but the design, construction, and operation of the

plant were contracted out to the E. I. du Pont de
Nemours & Co. Du Pont handled the major
portion of the project work directly, but sub­
contracted certain specialty jobs such as highway
and railroad construction, erection of water tanks
and powerhouse chimneys. AEC maintained a
small staff at the project site to check on costs and
standards, to act as liaison between the con­
tractor and Government agencies, and generally
to assure that the project progressed according
to schedule.
Work on the SRP was divided into two general
phases; one hiring schedule covered construction
of facilities and another operation of the plant
after manufacture of atomic materials got under
way. Actually these phases overlapped con­
siderably. A large portion of the production
staff (“permanent” workers) was scheduled to be
hired by mid-1952, when construction employ­
ment (“temporary” workers) was to be at its peak
level, and the construction force was scheduled to
decline gradually over the following year or two.
Further, experience at other AEC installations
suggested that, contrary to the general impression
among local residents, some construction activity
would continue even after the major facilities
were completed.
It was against this background that the Novem­
ber 1951 survey was carried out.

I.—Manpower and Wages

sion as engineers worked out improvements, “got
behind” construction. The reduced hiring rate
had varied repercussions not only on hiring pro­
grams but also on community problems.

Large-scale hiring for the SRP had had remark­
ably little effect on employment and wage patterns
in the area by November 1951. Recruitment had
not been too great a problem for the project at
that time, but over 60 percent of the workers
hired,*2 including most of the skilled, were from
outside the 50-mile “commuting area.” Chief
local shortage was of qualified clerical workers,
and their salary scales had risen during the
preceding year. The SRP shared in this shortage
which was attributed chiefly to Camp Gordon.
Most manual workers in the area were not the
type needed on the SRP, and, for those who were,
the attraction of somewhat higher wage rates
than those paid locally was partially offset by
commuting costs and difficulties. As a result,
some local construction rates were reported to
have risen, but local concerns were only gradually
beginning to have difficulty in obtaining needed
unskilled labor, chief group recruited locally.
Agricultural labor was in short supply and wage
rates had risen, but this represented a long-term
trend which SRP hiring had merely aggravated.
SRP manpower needs had been successfully met,
mainly from the Southeast—only about 30 percent
of the workers hired having come from outside
South Carolina and Georgia, and less than 20
percent from outside the general South Atlantic
region. The reserve of craftsmen available in
that region under existing project conditions was
generally considered to be near exhaustion, how­
ever, and it was anticipated that recruitment of
skilled workers must henceforth be Nation-wide.
Basic wage rates, unchanged throughout the period
under review 3 and augmented by only 5 hours of
overtime beginning in August, were lower than
those in more industrialized sections of the coun­
try, and union officials predicted difficulty in
attracting the needed labor. Recruitment diffi­
culties might already have been encountered, in
some observers’ opinion, if construction schedules
had not been temporarily slowed beginning in
September when design, subject to constant revi­

Over-All Project Employment

SRP employment practices were in general Du
Pont’s “normal commercial practices,” with AEG
approval required for any deviations from this
norm. Under the Davis-Bacon Act, all Federal
contractors must pay at least those rates deter­
mined by the Secretary of Labor to be prevailing
for similar projects in the area. Various other
minimum labor standards are also set, such as
prohibition of discrimination in employment be­
cause of race, creed, color, or national origin;
payment of overtime rates for work beyond 8
hours daily; and “anti-kickback” regulations.
Construction hiring did not start until after the
Secretary fixed manual wage rates on February 9,
1951, at which time only some 260 AEG and Du
Pont supervisory and clerical persons were em­
ployed. Hiring proceeded on schedule until the
September slowdown noted, when nearly 17,000
workers were on the job. The weekly construc­
tion hiring rate then dropped from an August
average of over 1,000 to a little over 400 during
October. By early November 1951, the force
(after separations) had increased only to 17,247,
substantially below the 24,000 originally scheduled
for October 1951. However, construction employ­
ment was still scheduled to reach a peak of 36,000
in the summer of 1952.4
Also on the project in November were some 60
to 70 Du Pont operations employees and an
AEG staff of about 170. Manning tables called
for 3,300 operations and roughly 250 AEG em­
ployees at the mid-1952 construction peak. As
construction declined, the operations staff would
rise gradually to 6,000 in mid-1954, with little
change in the AEG force.4 Du Pont operations
staff are excluded from the following discussion.
Labor turn-over, about the same as on other
Du Pont construction jobs, averaged approxi­
mately 8 per 100 through October 1951. The rate
was fairly uniform throughout the crafts, although

2 E xact inform ation on th e place of recru itm en t w as n ot availab le for th e
force a ctu ally on the job, term ination figures n ot being broken dow n betw een
local and in-migrant labor.
2 T he Secretary of Labor m ade slight corrections in one or tw o individual
rates w h ich n ew evidence show ed to have been in ad verten tly set at rates not
q u ite eq u ivalen t to th ose prevailing.

Schedules were su b seq u en tly revised, settin g n ew estim ates of 45,500 con­
stru ction workers in Septem ber 1952 an d 7,200 produ ction workers in mid1954.



slightly higher in the lower-paid categories.
Separations were highest among workers in their
first month or two of employment, dwindling to an
almost negligible level after the “shake-down”
period, according to project officials. Quitting
either to take other jobs or because of wages were
the major causes of the more than 7,000 termina­
tions by November 11. Few employees left
specifically because of living conditions.
Training programs consisted of an extensive
supervisory training program, orientation for all
new employees, and some on-the-job training
given to office personnel by their supervisors; 107
apprentices were employed, almost entirely in the
electrician and ironworker crafts. However, a
short-term skill-improvement training program
had been worked out, in conjunction with appren­
ticeship personnel, to meet certain anticipated
Manual Workers on the Project

Nearly three-fourths of the total force on Du
Pont construction payrolls were manual workers
(11,441) and gang foremen (1,198), on November
8, 1951. Trades represented were carpenters and
laborers (over 3,000 each); ironworkers, teamsters,
and operating engineers (over 1,000 each);
plumbers and steamfitters, and electricians (over
600 each); bricklayers and cement finishers,
boilermakers, sheet-metal workers, and painters
(over 100 each). (Hiring of asbestos workers
started only in September and few were on the
project by November.) Well over two-thirds of
the expected peak demand for laborers, teamsters,
and operating engineers had already been met;
major hiring of other crafts had not yet occurred,
and the proportion of skilled workers was sched­
uled to rise sharply as construction progressed.
These figures include workers employed under
subcontracts made specifically for the supplying
and supervision of workers in certain crafts, not­
ably the electrical and pipefitting subcontracts.
Excluded are the roughly 1,000 workers employed
by subcontractors performing specialty construc­
tion jobs on an independent basis. The following
discussion does not apply to this group, although
subcontract provisions required general working
conditions in effect comparable to those for Du
Pont construction workers.

Wages and Working Conditions. The project pay
scale reflected rates prevailing in the “recruiting
region,” since some heavy construction skills were
either not available or few in number in the imme­
diate Aiken-Augusta area, and project work often
required more skill than did local work. In most
instances, wage rates were therefore somewhat
higher than the going local level. The rate for
boilermakers, for example, many of whom habit­
ually migrate from one large construction job to
another and who are scarce nationally, was that
negotiated by the union late in 1950 for the South­
east area as a whole. Other rates, such as that
for carpenters, who were available but scarce lo­
cally, were determined on the basis of wages in
Atlanta, the nearest large city. On the other
hand, the rate for common labor, available locally
in large numbers, was below union rates in other
southeastern cities; it was, however, substantially
above going local rates, reflecting the project's
extensive need for such workers. Hourly SRP
rates ranged from $2.60 for plumbers and steamfitters to $0.90 to $1 for laborers; truck drivers
were the only other category receiving less than
$2 an hour.
Hours were 9 a day, 5 days a week, with a few
crews working shift or week-end hours, such as on
maintenance or when a concrete pour was not
finished. Most crafts were paid time and a half
for hours over 8 per day or other than the regular
shift, but a few received double time. All crafts
had at least four established holidays, some hav­
ing five or six, and most were paid double time
for work on holidays. A normal differential was
granted for multiple-shift operations and a 20percent differential for electricians performing cer­
tain hazardous work. In contrast to the subsidies
for traveling and “isolation” commonly paid
workers on construction jobs, the only additional
allowance was for asbestos workers. They were
to receive the equivalent of bus fare from Colum­
bia, S. C., for their initial and return trips to the
project and an out-of-town allowance for each
day worked.
The majority of construction workers had not
yet been employed long enough to qualify for most
of the fringe benefits provided. All workers com­
pleting 1 year's service were to receive 2 weeks'
paid vacation. Certain benefits were provided
over and above regular workmen's compensation


for on-the-job injuries. For nonoccupational sick­
ness or accident, a company-employee-financed
group accident and health insurance plan was open
to employees after 6 months’ service, and a high
proportion of those eligible were reported to be
covered; to protect against income loss during such
periods, a company-paid disability wage plan was
available for employees with at least 1 year’s
service. In September 1951, Du Pont also
requested Wage Stabilization Board (WSB)
approval for a plan to pay premiums on hospital­
ization and surgical care for employees with at
least 1 year’s service, but the request had not yet
been acted on in November. Other standard Du
Pont programs included life-insurance and pension
plans for continuously employed personnel.
Du Pont’s safety program was widely regarded
as among the finest throughout industry and far
superior to most in the less safety-minded con­
struction industry. All workers received a half­
day’s orientation on safety and security, and in a
variety of ways attention was constantly called
to safety regulations. Supplementary safety
equipment was sold at cost at “cash sales stores.”
Also on the site were a central dispensary, a cafe­
teria, and a bank in the administration area, and
a small sick bay and food-dispensing unit in each
construction area.
Finally, throughout its operations Du Pont
emphasized a close personal relationship between
the supervisor, carefully selected and trained, and
those reporting to him.
Manual con­
struction labor, including most of the gang fore­
men, was almost entirely recruited through the
American Federation of Labor building-trades
unions. During the 2% months between the SRP
announcement and the wage-rate determination,
people flocked into Aiken and Augusta from all
over the country, drawn by rumors of project
wages as high as $7 an hour. They crowded
Employment Service offices in both communities,
where they were given Du Pont applications;
most left immediately, because no SRP work was
available. After hiring started, United States
Employment Service project activity was limited
mainly to recruitment of nonmanual workers,
although the Aiken office supplied a few workers
to three of the unions.
Recruitment of the Labor Force.

225270— 52---- 2

With over 90 percent of all building-trades
workers belonging to the AFL unions, according
to union statistics, recruitment through the unions
is customary for almost all large construction jobs.
Two exceptions had occurred on the SRP as of
November: a few “DP’s” from the site, who
had priority over all job applicants if qualified,
had been employed; in late October, Du Pont
had ordered a specified number of workers hired
“at the gate” (i. e., without regard to union
referral), as a means of satisfying company
officials who had no records of union membership
that complaints of a closed shop were untrue.
Otherwise, so long as the unions could fill the
labor “requisitions” carefully worked out each
week, the company hired only union-referred
Not all workers referred were actually hired,
however. Du Pont’s employment office rejected
a good many on medical grounds, particularly
common laborers, among whom the union reported
“a rather bad health condition.” Du Pont inter­
viewers rejected others as unqualified for the work
or because they failed to meet security require­
ments.5 Some were also separated shortly after
employment- when X-rays and checks on security
and experience claimed became available. Of
considerable local interest in October 1951 were
Ku Klux Klan charges of discrimination against
its members in project employment. AEC spokes­
men pointed out that the project did not hire
members of organizations listed by the U. S.
Attorney General’s Office as advocating or ap­
proving force and violence to deny others their
constitutional rights.
Thirty-nine percent of manual workers hired
by mid-October had been recruited from within
the so-called commuting radius of 50 miles, with
a few additional workers reported to be traveling
daily from as far away as 90 to 100 miles. The
bulk of these hires were laborers and truck drivers,
groups which were almost completely local re­
cruits. As the project needs were large for both
categories of men, and neither union concerned
had offices in the area when the project was
announced, the laborers’ union set up a council
in Aiken, composed of three locals from other
5 N oncritical workers w ere hired after an interview and fingerprinting,
w ith a subsequent D u P o n t check of police records and/or F B I file check;
personnel w ho w ou ld have access to restricted m aterial had a full p reem ploy­
m ent F B I in vestige,tion.

parts of South Carolina and Georgia, and the
teamsters’ international chartered a new local.
The laborers’ council reported extensive recruit­
ment efforts in rural areas around the project,
including attempts to make transportation facili­
ties available for groups of potential construction
laborers. Both organizations recruited some
workers through the Aiken public employment
office. The commuting problem was particularly
significant for these low-paid workers. Many did
not have cars, preferred by most SRP workers
since local buses did not take them as close to
their particular work areas. In any case, the cost
of bus or car-pool transportation substantially cut
down any differential in the take-home pay be­
tween local and project employment. The time
involved and frequent accidents on highways
overcrowded at rush hours were also recruitment
handicaps. Some local sources labeled as addi­
tional deterrents such factors as union member­
ship fees and the informal, personal relationship
between local employers and their common labor
in contrast to the strange and highly organized
conditions on the construction project.
Only a small proportion of workers in other
trades were obtained from the limited local supply.
Union recruitment arrangements reflected the
variation between crafts in local availability as
well as in number and level of skill required and
existing local organization. The plumbers, elec­
tricians, bricklayers, carpenters, and painters al­
ready had locals in the area, which handled proj­
ect needs; for pipefitters, relatively hard to find
and managed on the project by the pipefitting
subcontractor, the plumbers international set up a
special office in the Augusta local. The iron­
workers also established an office in the SRP
area, and the operating engineers inaugurated a
new branch of the South Carolina local. Both the
boilermakers and the sheet-metal workers re­
cruited through locals elsewhere in the region.
Some unions, such as the sheet-metal workers and
bricklayers, had been able to meet SRP needs
with workers who came to the local on their own
initiative, whereas the boilermakers, for example,
had already had to “ scour the country” to locate
workers with the highly specialized experience re­
quired. Ironworkers were the one group for
which recruitment needs had been “filled more
slowly” as of November.

The readily available common labor in the area
was generally believed to have been absorbed by
November, and a teamsters’ spokesman said that
experienced truck drivers could no longer be ob­
tained at project wages. Intensive recruitment
would yield the additional common labor needed,
according to most local authorities. Both unions,
however, urged a wage increase as essential to
further recruitment, citing also increased cost of
living and higher rates on other AEG installations.
Further, a number of union spokesmen attributed
the lack of craft shortage thus far to the season.
They pointed out that, as SRP labor needs rose in
the spring and summer of 1952, construction
activity would be resumed in the more industrial­
ized sections of the country and the southern
climate would no longer be an attraction. The
relative length of SRP employment was advan­
tageous, but the ironworkers, for example, said
that it was already difficult to keep people on the
job because of the low SRP rates and take-home
pay. Increasing difficulties in both recruitment
and retention of workers were predicted if project
pay remained unchanged.
Only one or two unions were reported to be
negotiating for increased pay at that time,6 but
one union representative expected that an SRP
wage raise would follow renegotiation of their area
contract in the spring, when most construction
agreements are negotiated. Any SRP increase
would be subject to both AEC approval and Wage
Stabilization Board regulations. Should the area
rate approved by the Board for nonproject work
rise, this could be the basis for revision of an SRP
rate; otherwise, an individual ruling by the WSB
would be required, because the SRP had no base
date for computing allowable percentage increases.
Any application for wage adjustment filed on
grounds of manpower shortage in an essential
defense activity would require certification by
other Government agencies that a concerted pro­
gram had been undertaken to remedy the shortage
and that the wage adjustment was an important
part of the over-all effort to attract and retain
While wage increases were not anticipated in the
near future, an extension of the workweek was
8 Stabilization officials approved increases for ironworkers and team sters
in January and F ebruary 1952. A num ber of other increases were approved
at the end of April, including 10- and 15-cent raises for laborers.


rumored locally.7 Inauguration of overtime in
August had been expected not only to help meet
immediate construction schedules but also, through
the increased take-home pay, to attract additional
workers and to cut down turn-over. The abnor­
mal hiring situation beginning in September made
it difficult to assess the effect of overtime on
either recruitment or quits.
Nonmanual Project Workers

Du Pont employed 5,012 nonmanual workers
on November 8, including general foremen and
craft and area superintendents; all AEC personnel
were nonmanual. Of the Du Pont total roughly
40 percent were clerical workers and nearly 20
percent were on patrol and fire-fighting duties;
a large proportion of the AEC staff was also cleri­
cal. Most professional and a few clerical workers
had been brought from other Du Pont and AEC
installations; the others were recruited through
the Employment Service, contacts with universi­
ties, and similar sources. Approximately a third
of the Du Pont and a good many AEC workers
had come from within the commuting area.
Both AEC and Du Pont had encountered serious
continuing shortages of engineers and certain other
professional workers who were in short supply
nationally. For a time AEC had some difficulty
in obtaining qualified clerical workers, also scarce
both locally and nationally. Minimum qualifica­
tions were too high for a large proportion of the
local applicants, and some failed to send in secu­
rity forms or took other jobs before the FBI investi­
gation was completed. However, AEC personnel
received salaries equivalent to Federal pay scales,
were not affected by the “ temporary” and “per­
manent” phases of the project schedule, and
worked a straight 5-day 40-hour week. By
November 1951, present and future clerical needs
were largely met, and quits were few.
In contrast, Du Pont continued to be unable
to recruit sufficient clerical and custodial workers.
Du Pont salaries were those prevailing in the area,
and hours and other working conditions were
the same as for other Du Pont employees. Re­
cruitment difficulties were attributed chiefly to
competition from other Government installations
in the area, principally Camp Gordon, which
7 E stab lish m en t of a 6-day, 54-hour w eek w as announced in late M arch

paid Federal rates and did not require lengthy
commuting. Du Pont in the early fall reduced
its emplo3 unent specifications somewhat—raising
the age limit for guards and accepting less-skilled
typists and stenographers than formerly. On
grounds of inequity with Camp Gordon wages,
the company also obtained WSB authorization
to change the rates for certain categories. The
new schedule was put into effect the latter part
of November.
Employment of Negroes

Twenty percent of Du Pont’s construction
force in early November 1951 were Negro workers
(3,369), but 91 percent of them were common
laborers, customarily colored, in this area. Aside
from a handful of nonmanual employees, the other
9 percent were employed as truck drivers, cement
finishers (also traditionally colored there), and
carpenters—including 27 Negro gang foremen,
for laborer, cement finisher, and carpenter crews.
Du Pont had employed no colored clerical work­
ers, and most of the few nonmanual workers cited
were employed as matrons. None of the AEC
staff was Negro. AEC had interviewed colored
as well as white applicants for clerical positions,
but, as with local applicants generally, very few
were able to pass the standard tests given, and
the few who did either failed to complete the
security check or took other jobs before it was
Both the National Association for the Advance­
ment of Colored People (NAACP) and the National
Urban League (NUL) charged racial discrimina­
tion in project hiring. They pointed out the
project's lack of Negro white-collar workers, re­
cruited directly by both AEC and Du Pont, and
asserted that the unions had “under-referred”
colored carpenters, truck drivers, and other skilled
workers as helpers. According to project officials,
Du Pont had advised union representatives that
referrals would be processed without regard to
color. Referring to this policy, speakers at an
NAACP-sponsored meeting in Aiken, in Sep­
tember 1951, charged Du Pont and an unidentified
Augusta union with “passing the buck” between
them and said that the NAACP had enough affi­
davits and other evidence of discrimination in
skilled employment to warrant going to court.
(Klan spokesmen, who had from time to time pro­


tested the announced project nondiscrimination
policy, promptly praised the union’s “white mem­
bers only” policy.)
The question of segregation was also raised by
all of these organizations. Du Pont policy is to
follow local custom in this matter on its construc­
tion jobs, but segregated eating facilities, wash
rooms, etc., were prohibited by AEC instructions
and none existed on the SRP. The issue was not
brought into the open on the project itself, in
view of the limited colored nonmanual staff and a
certain amount of tacit “self-segregation.”
AEC headquarters in Washington held numer­
ous conferences during 1951 with the home offices
of AEC contractors on compliance with the
nondiscrimination clause in Federal contracts.8
In October, a personnel officer was assigned to
help place qualified Negroes in AEC and contrac­
tor jobs on a program-wide basis, but the AEC
had not yet issued instructions for carrying out
this assignment.
Effect on the Local Labor Market

Before the SRP wage determination, grave
concern was voiced over the local effect of SRP
wage-manpower policies by manufacturers, far­
mers, officials responsible for State highway
construction, and similar groups, in North Carolina
as well as in the two States directly affected. Rea­
sons underlying this concern were that high wages
would draw off qualified local workers and force
up local rates, yet low wages would make it
impossible to attract any but local people; recruit­
ment mainly from outside the area would cut
down disruption of local industry but place an
added burden on community facilities.
Local comment on wages died down after the
wage scale announcement, and greater emphasis
seemed to be placed on the question of future SRP
wage adjustments, either to attract labor or be­
cause of union demands, than on existing policies.
Local officials (other than labor) varied in their
evaluation of project rates, but the secretary of
the Augusta Chamber of Commerce, for example,
said that they were “not exorbitant.” Further,
Du Pont officials met from time to time with
leading local manufacturers, assuring them that
labor “pirating” would be avoided (although local
8 In D ecem ber, P resident T ru m an created a n ew top-level com m ittee to
police com pliance w ith th is clause b y all Federal contractors.

labor was to be used where possible in order to
minimize housing needs). They also explained in
advance such SRP policies as the August extension
of the workday. In September, the newly
created Southern Regional WSB referred publicly
to the Du Pont proposal for a nonmanual wage
change and was sharply criticized by the Governor
of South Carolina for any consideration of a wage
increase on the project. Immediately, the Board
clarified the proposal as applying only to a few
clerical and custodial workers.
Local evaluation of project manpower policies
also reflected the varying viewpoints on the longrun development of the area. Leading citizens in
both Augusta and Barnwell hoped that the avail­
ability of a skilled labor force as project construc­
tion declined would attract new industry. The
Augusta Chamber of Commerce was already
approaching northern firms who might be inter­
ested in the combination of skilled labor and power
from the Clark Hill powerhouse, currently under
construction. Several firms were already planning
to establish plants in Augusta, according to the
Chamber secretary, which would also help to
cushion the effect of the decline in SRP construc­
tion activity on the local labor market.
Precise information on wage changes during the
period under review is extremely fragmentary.
In announcing that one of its first tasks would be
to investigate the wage-manpower situation in the
SRP area, the regional WSB cited many requests
for permission to increase wages there as well as
widespread rumors of labor pirating and irregular
wage increases. No further details were released,
however. The Southern Regional Office of the
Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed wages and
supplementary benefits in the Augusta-Aiken
metropolitan area in November 1951. The study
did not cover trend, and construction was ex­
cluded; but the figures give some idea of the rela­
tionship between SRP wages and those paid local
office and maintenance workers.
Clerical W orkers and Com m on Labor . Shortage of
competent clerical workers was not new to the
SRP area, as Government projects paying civilservice rates had competed for qualified office
personnel since the beginning of World War II.
On the Augusta side of the SRP, current expansion
of these projects was more important in the clerical


scarcity than the relatively unattractive Du Pont
jobs or the small volume of AEC employment
which, though paid at the Government rates,
involved commuting. Wives of some project
engineers and administrative employees took
local stenographic jobs, but such additions were
few. For such communities as Barnwell, however,
located on the other side of the project from
Augusta, the shortage was directly attributable to
the SRP. Since project standards for stenographic
and other top brackets eliminated most of the
local girls, those hired represented virtually all
the qualified workers available. Lower-grade
clerical workers were plentiful, turned out “a
dime a dozen” by the schools, according to a local
Salary scales in private industry rose during
1951 in response to the shortage, and standards
were reduced. The monthly minimum beginning
salary for stenographers, as evidenced by orders
to public employment offices, was $160 in Septem­
ber 1951 compared with $145 on May 1, and
employers were generally willing to pay more than
the minimum.
By November, straight-time
weekly salaries for stenographers averaged $44 a
week, according to the BLS survey; salaries for
women office workers in establishments studied
ranged from $30.50 for routine file clerks to $56
for secretaries. Du Pont salary scales were $39
to $46 weekly for stenographers and $34.50 for
Project reliance on the local labor market for
unskilled labor had caused nonagricultural em­
ployers only relatively minor difficulties in obtain­
ing common labor by November, and the going
hourly rates of 75 to 82 cents had not changed
markedly, according to various sources. Further
additions could only be at the expense of local
employers, however, and one Augusta brick
manufacturing company was already beginning to
hire colored women as common laborers—the
alternative to raising wages— as had been done
during the war. If this proved successful, the
expectation was that the practice might eventually
spread. Such workers were plentiful and, though
the work was dirty, heavy, and in some instances
hot, the pay was the top common labor rate of
82 cents hourly and better than the $12 to $15
a week paid to domestic servants.
Recruitment from the rural sections had more

seriously affected the farm labor supply. Shortages
of cotton pickers during the fall of 1951 were
widely reported and wages, which customarily
rise during the picking season, reached the top
1950 rate early in the season and subsequently at­
tained a new high. An adequate supply of work­
ers was attracted by the increased rates in Georgia.
In South Carolina, from which the project had
drawn more labor than from the rural sections of
Georgia beyond Augusta, the situation varied;
one big cotton planter, for example, indicated no
particular difficulty, yet a small farmer in an out­
lying county said that cotton had been left in the
fields for lack of pickers. Most authorities agreed,
however, that the project had merely speeded up
a long-term decline in the farm-labor supply and
hastened the process of mechanization and
diversification of farming.
Only isolated in­
stances of difficulties in the maintenance field were
reported for the building trades. The unexpect­
edly minor influence of the project on the local
construction industry was attributed partly to
the supplying of SRP craft needs largely from
outside the area, but more important was the
coincidence of project construction with a slump
in local construction activity. Building had
picked up sharply with the reactivation of Gamp
Gordon and the SRP announcement shortly
thereafter. But by the time substantial numbers
of workers were being hired on the project, build­
ing had slumped: Federal Reserve Board support
had been removed from Government bonds and
almost no mortgage money was available. Thus,
craftsmen drawn to the project probably would
have been unemployed, according to local ob­
Actually, the small local supply of craft labor
was augmented by workers attracted to the area
but unable to meet Du Pont’s exacting standards.
Several of the unions indicated that they placed a
good number of Du Pont rejects locally. One
union, with special arrangements for project re­
cruitment, tried to get qualified men for local con­
tractors as well. Also, during the fall cut-back in
project hiring, some skilled workers continued to
arrive for whom project jobs were not immediately
available. Barnwell authorities also noted that a
good number of craftsmen had come into town
with the express purpose of taking local construeSkilled Construction Workers.


tion jobs, which they expected would expand
because of the project.
Financing was still not available in November
for the residential construction planned to meet the
growing housing needs of both the SRP and
Camp Gordon. However, local contractors ex­
pected that the new defense housing legislation,
not yet in effect, would ease this situation, and that
competition for skilled labor would then be con­
siderable. Even then, observers doubted that
local contractors would be worse off with regard to
labor supply than before the project. The fringe of
craft labor unacceptable to Du Pont would, if any­
thing, increase as recruitment rose; and local
workers might quit the project for nonproject jobs,
more desirable in the long run, if wages were at all
comparable when such work became available.
Craft wage rates had shown a slow but definite
upward trend by November. In some instances
they matched the Du Pont scale. For example,
the Construction Industry Stabilization Commis­
sion approved a rate for sheet-metal workers in
Augusta equivalent to the SRP rate, effective in
late August 1951. (A union spokesman reported
that of the few Augusta men in this craft who had
taken SRP jobs, practically all had returned to
the local shops by November.) In September
1951, one of the major local manufacturers was
also authorized to pay bricklayers the same rate
as that on the project.
But in general rates for local construction work
were reportedly still below the SRP scale, and
for maintenance work (customarily lower than for
construction), well below those on the project.
Straight-time hourly earnings of maintenance and
power-plant employees surveyed by the BLS in
November ranged from $0.94 for helpers to $1.59
for automotive mechanics, with carpenters, elec­
tricians, machinists, and painters all averaging less
than $1.50 in manufacturing establishments.
Rates for truck drivers, largely recruited locally,
were somewhat closer to the project scale; those
covered by the survey received an average of 84
to 97 cents hourly; and the business agent for the
new teamsters’ local in Aiken said that, as far as
he knew, truck drivers were receiving $0.75 in the
area prior to the project.
Other Occupations. Textile concerns had report­
edly lost a few mechanics to the project, but other­
wise had been little affected. Most of the textile

workers were women, with unsuitable experience
for project employment, particularly during the
construction phase, but local people doubted that
they would be drawn to the project in any case.
The major textile mills, in operation for many
years, provided company-built low-rental housing
and many of the families had lived there for gen­
erations. (The Horse Creek Valley road was a
series of company towns, with practically all com­
mercial and community facilities, as well as houses,
company-built.) Frequently several members of
the family worked in the mills, with family income
as a whole relatively high.
Other manufacturing establishments in the area
were relatively little affected, except for the in­
creasing difficulty in obtaining common labor and
some tendency by employers to avoid lay-offs,
regardless of season, in order to hold workers.
Women made up the bulk of the force in Augusta’s
largest food-processing concern, for example, and
in the Barnwell zipper plant, which was operating
below capacity anyhow during much of this period.
The sawmills in Barnwell reportedly lost some
labor but were not seriously affected since sawmill
operations are flexible.
Retail establishments were experiencing little
labor supply difficulty in spite of rapidly expanding
business. In Augusta, many servicemen’s wives
wanted to work; since training at the Camp lasted
only 3 to 5 months, jobs as salesgirls were among
the few open to them. Wives of project workers
also augmented the labor supply for these jobs,
particularly in Aiken and to some extent in Barn­
well. In the latter community, however, a good
many stores were small family-run concerns, and
women workers were already plentiful for the
Some wives of project personnel also took jobs
in other fields. For example, one or two nurses
took jobs in Augusta in the public health field,
and several waitresses worked in one of the Aiken
Cost of Living
Local opinion on cost-of-living changes during
the period under review varied widely depending
on the individual’s own particular status and ex­
perience, and no figures are available to bear out
any of these views. Agreement was almost uni­
versal among people interviewed that rents had
risen sharply, posing serious problems for workers


coming into the area as well as for some local fam­
ilies. Workers generally said that other prices
too were high, although local residents tended to
believe no greater price rise had occurred there
than elsewhere in the country.
Rents had been decontrolled throughout the
region by early 1950. Vacant rental units in
Augusta began to fill up rapidly after Camp
Gordon was reactivated and people began to offer
rooms and apartments for rent for the first time
in both Aiken and Augusta. Stories of high rents
were soon widespread, and rent control was
reactivated in the area on September 20, 1951,
with a scheduled roll-back to July 1, 1950.
All types of rental housing were covered by the
controls, new units, trailers, boarding houses, etc.,
and the first problem was registration. The origi­
nal September deadline was twice delayed, to
November 4. As of mid-November, some rents
had been rolled back but the large-scale opening of
rental units after the July 1950 base date sharply
reduced the significance of the regulations. In ad­
dition, the need to encourage people to open up
rooms placed considerable pressure on rent con­
trol authorities in the area toward liberality in
“hardship” cases. Augusta realtors warned that
rent curbs might cut construction of new housing
units, and individuals taking roomers for the first
time said that controls would “do more harm than
good.” Even two Augusta office workers whose
rent had been rolled back commented that they
had not requested the reduction, and one “didn’t
even think it was justified.”
Yet charges of rent “gouging” continued to be
prevalent in November, particularly on the newly
opened rental units in which many of the SRP
workers lived. Instances were also cited, however,
of local families who had lived in a particular
house for years and whose rent had been raised
sharpJy following the SRP announcement. Fre­
quently complaints were based on the bad con­
dition of units as well as the high rentals. One
double room, for example, rented at $85 a month,
and the bathroom was shared by a third roomer
who had to go through the room to reach it.
Reports on price changes were more conflicting.
In June when the regional Office of Price Stabiliza­
tion opened temporary offices in Augusta, a
press account said that consumers reported prices
spiraling upward daily in Augusta, commercial

center of the area. At the same time, it quoted
Augusta businessmen to the effect that the
demands of expanding population had kept turn­
over of stocks “normal” and prevented them from
being as high as elsewhere in the country following
the post-Korean build-up, but that inventories
still were higher than usual. Union represent­
atives interviewed in November, both long-time
Augusta residents and those who were new to the
area, were vehement in their comments on how
prices as well as rents had risen.
Complicating any evaluation of the direct effect
of the project on prices was the tendency of in­
migrants to compare conditions in the area with
those “back home.” Many complaints about high
rents came from workers who had moved from
relatively low-rent areas. For example, a project
compressor operator and his wife were regarded
as “lucky” to have a 2-room-and-private-bath
apartment, but in Missouri, where he had worked
for a dry-cleaning firm, they had a roomy duplex
at less rent. The large proportion of SRP workers
from rural areas in South Carolina and Georgia
probably also found local prices higher than those
in their own small communities, according to
observers, and changes in living patterns of former
agricultural workers would make expenses seem
correspondingly greater. An unknown number of
the SRP workers were, however, “ week-end com­
muters” and continued to buy largely in their
home towns, some distance from the project.
Yet several people said that prices were higher
than in New York, for example. The wife of a
project construction supervisor found food and
rent both high—food more so than in New York,
but rents “not bad” comparatively—although
laundry work was extremely cheap and quite good,
and domestic service cost less than half what she
had paid in New York. Several residents ex­
plained that, in Aiken, high prices and rents
resulted, not from the SRP, but from Aiken’s
being a tourist town. Rents were traditionally
set at levels adjusted to only about 4 months’
occupancy during the year, and beauty shops, for
example, customarily charged a higher fee to
tourists than to residents. In Augusta, several
residents were convinced that prices had gone up
no more than elsewhere, one even saying that she
was able to live on the same amount as before
the project started.

II.—Unionization and
Industrial Relations
Major trade-union gains in the Aiken-Augusta
area during the initial construction work on the
Savannah River Plant (SRP) were among local
common laborers and truck drivers. Previously
these men had been almost completely nonunion;
the change resulted from project hiring through
the American Federation of Labor buildingtrades unions. Craft unions already established
in Augusta before the project's start had added
some new members, but a good many of the
in-migrant SRP workers retained membership in
locals outside the area. Whether the new mem­
bers, either local or from outside the area, rep­
resent permanent additions to the local labor
movement will depend, however, on factors such
as union officials' success in demonstrating the
advantages of union membership to newly organ­
ized workers with little understanding of union
functions; the establishment, by unions setting
up new units in the area, of firm relations with
local employers at the same time as the manning
of the project (a function which chiefly pre­
occupied union officials in November 1951);
and availability of construction or maintenance
jobs, after major SRP construction is completed,
for either local workers new to construction jobs
or in-migrant members of local unions. Tradeunion organization had not spread to workers in
other industries at the time of this study, as
some local residents feared it would eventually do,
although organization of a union in Barnwell was
attempted for the first time in the spring of 1951.
Widespread publicity and intense local interest
centered on SRP labor relations in the fall of 1951.
On the basis of an incognito visit to the project
site, Congressman W. M. Wheeler from Georgia
in September charged that SRP construction jobs
could be obtained only through “labor racket­
eers," who imposed exorbitant fees for a “worker's
permit" and withdrew union cards already issued
to workers and “sold" them to others. An
October series of articles in the New York JournalAmerican (reprinted by the two Augusta papers)
reported the situation in similar terms, stated
that union initiation fees had been raised in

recent weeks, and described as union “kick-backs"
such items as dues paid into the union's operating
fund and employer contributions to pension funds.
Early in November, a subcommittee of the
House Education and Labor Committee held a
week's public hearings in Augusta on SRP em­
ployment practices in the light of the TaftHartley Act closed-shop prohibition, the question
of union “rackets," and similar matters on which
complaints had been received. Facts brought
out at the hearings, at which both the unions and
the company denied the validity of the complaints
against them, clarified the policies and operations
described throughout this article.
Meanwhile the SRP's almost unbroken record
of industrial peace was virtually unnoticed. The
only strike which had occurred at the time of this
survey was a 1% day walk-out of electricians in
early October.
Project Labor-Management Relations

Du Pont followed its customary policy for
construction jobs of recruiting both skilled and
unskilled workers through the building-trades
unions—the most expeditious means of obtaining
skilled construction labor, since most crafts are
highly organized. In November 1951, 12 of the
19 internationals affiliated with the AFL Build­
ing Trades Department were represented on the
SRP,9 and the vast majority of project workers
were members. Several unions referred workers
to the project who were neither members nor
applicants for membership, in the expectation of
later convincing them to join. Almost all such
workers did so, but some membership applicants,
particularly laborers, did not complete payment of
initiation fees or “pick up their cards."
The International Association of Machinists
(IAM), which reaffiliated with the AFL in Jan8 T h e Internation al B rotherhood of Boilerm akers, Iron Ship B uilders, and
H elpers of America; th e Sheet M etal W orkers' International Association;
th e Internation al A ssociation of Bridge, Structural, and O rnam ental Iron
W orkers; th e U n ited B rotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America;
th e B ricklayers, M asons, and Plasterers International U nion of Am erica;
the U n ited A ssociation of Journeym en and A pprentices of the P lu m b in g an d
P ip e F ittin g Industry; th e Internation al Brotherhood of E lectrical Workers;
th e B rotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers of America;
th e International U nion of Operating Engineers; th e International B rother­
hood of T eam sters, Chauffeurs, W arehousem en, and H elpers of America;
th e Internation al H o d Carriers’, B u ild in g and C om m on Laborers’ U nion of
America; and th e International A ssociation of H ea t and Frost Insulators
an d A sbestos W orkers.


uary 1951 but was not a member of the Building
Trades Department, also had a few members on
the project, employed in the machine shop.
Within the framework of general
AEC policy, Du Pont had handled its labor
relations on the SRP with substantial independ­
ence as of November 1951. AEC exercises an
over-all supervisory role on its various instal­
lations, based on its control of contractor labor
expenditures and its general responsibility for
carrying out the atomic energy program. The
Commission also retains final authority over all
security matters, which in the past have sometimes
complicated organizational questions. AEC se­
curity policies are currently spelled out in such a
way as not only to safeguard security (in pre­
venting a political strike or other organized
sabotage as well as protecting confidential infor­
mation) but also to protect the rights of both labor
and management under the Labor Management
Relations Act: provision is made for assurance
that information will not be withheld in National
Labor Relations Board cases on grounds of se­
curity if it can be supplied in unclassified form,
and for assistance where a decision may turn on
data which are available only in classified form.10*
AEC staff at a given project site exercise their
broad supervisory responsibilities in a variety of
ways. For example, they assure that changes in
employment conditions proposed on the basis of
area practices are those actually prevailing in the
area or having other substantial foundation; en­
courage application of practices and procedures
which have proved most successful in maintaining
sound and stable labor relations; carry out any
AEC responsibility placed upon the agency under
existing labor laws; and so on.
AEC also encourages construction contractors
and union officials to settle jurisdictional disputes
in accordance with the rules and regulations of
the National Joint Board for the Settlement of
Jurisdictional Disputes in the Building and Con­
struction Industry (established in early 1948) and
to resolve other labor disputes or grievances
whenever possible at the local level. Utilization
oi Federal agencies authorized to assist in the
Role of A E C .

10 These policies are set forth in B u lletin G M -187, Security Policies and
Practices in the Area of Labor R elations, issued M a y 8, 1951, w h ich covers,
for exam ple, circum stances under w hich A E C pro j ect m anagers m ay authorize
in vestigation for secu rity clearance of un ion officials, or Federal conciliators
an d arbitrators.
225270—52---- 3

settlement of labor disputes, such as the Federal
Mediation and Conciliation Service or the Wage
Stabilization Board, is facilitated by AEC wher­
ever necessary. If collective bargaining and
normal processes of conciliation have failed to
resolve a dispute, it may be referred to the Atomic
Energy Labor Relations Panel11 as a last resort,
at the request of either party or AEC. Appointed
by the President in 1949 to prevent any work
stoppages which might threaten a vital part of
the atomic energy program, the “Davis Panel”
attempts to mediate, but may make formal
recommendations if further negotiations between
the parties fail. Panel procedures are “designed
to safeguard continuity of operations while not
inhibiting free collective bargaining between AEC
contractors and unions.”
On AEC manufacturing operations, the unions
and contractors are bound to submit an unre­
solved dispute to the Panel before resorting to
either strike or lock-out. In an exchange of letters
with the AEC in 1949, both groups agreed that,
if such a dispute occurred, operations would be
continued under existing employment conditions
without interruption until the Panel took juris­
diction and so long as the Panel retained jurisdic­
tion, and for an additional 30 days if the dispute
remained unsettled and the Panel made final
recommendations (the no-stoppage obligation
ceases if the Panel does not take jurisdiction).
Construction contractors did not participate in
the exchange of letters, and construction activities
accordingly are not currently covered by the no­
strike no-lock-out pledge, although the Panel has
increasingly been called on to help settle construc­
tion disputes. Following a series of “wildcat”
strikes on one or two important AEC construction
projects in the fall of 1951, the president of the
AFL Building Trades Department proposed a
meeting to work out an over-all policy to eliminate
construction work stoppages on AEC projects
during the current national emergency. “While
present disputes appear to be solely between AEC
contractors and unions,” he said, “we believe
that the underlying cause stems directly from a
lack of an equitable, uniform labor policy of the
Both the AFL and the CIO, as well as outside
11 For a description of th e P an el, see M o n th ly L abor R ev iew , June 1949
(p. 661).


authorities/2 have pointed out the anomaly of
AEC’s stated wish to leave labor matters in the
hands of its contractors insofar as possible with the
simultaneous requirement that AEG approve
labor costs and the necessity for avoiding stop­
pages which would impede the vital atomic
energy program. The federations have called for
an AEG policy covering wages and working con­
ditions under which the workers, having relin­
quished certain bargaining rights in the interests
of national security, could look to the Commission
to supply the deficiency in their bargaining power.
(The CIO has further urged that a TVA-type
operation, with direct collective bargaining be­
tween the Government agency and the unions,
replace the current system of contracting to
private corporations; this practice in their opinion
strengthens the latter’s “already monopolistic
position,” as well as results in “bad labor poli­
cies.”) Establishment of the Davis Panel and
clarification of security policies represent the
major formalized steps taken to date to establish
a clear-cut framework of Commission policy within
which unions and contractors can bargain with
“minimum interference with the traditional rights
of American labor and management.”
In the construction of the SRP, only routine
AEG action in labor relations matters had been re­
quired as of November 1951. No NLRB elections
had been requested; 13 no dispute had required
outside assistance, either from Federal mediation
authorities or the Davis Panel, for settlement;
and no wage increases had been negotiated.
Management P olicy .

Industrial relations practices
on the SRP were in general the “normal com­
mercial practices” of Du Pont and the various
subcontractors. Du Pont signed no formal
collective-bargaining agreements with the unions.
As described in Part I—Manpower and Wages,
on page 3, the initial wage scale was predeter­
mined by the Secretary of Labor. The Du Pont
company extended to SRP employees certain
vacation and other benefits provided throughout
its organization but not prevalent in the con­
struction industry. Company officials met with

u Jam es E . N ew m an , Y ale L aw Journal, D ecem ber 1951. For a discussion
of collective bargaining in quasi-public w ork in general, see M o n th ly Labor
E ev iew , M arch 1952 (p. 257).
» On D ecem ber 7,1951, th e electrical workers filed a petition for certification
as representative for all electrical workers em ployed on the site; a hearing
w a s held in late M arch 1952, an d an election directed on M a y 8.

representatives of the building-trades unions in
the SRP area, shortly after the project announce­
ment, in order to reach an understanding on
the fringe payments customary for construction
workers, such as premium rates for overtime.
Subsequently, as new situations arose and changes
were proposed, actions to be taken were discussed
with and clearly understood by the unions.
A few of the subcontractors had written national
agreements with the internationals concerned, and
others had agreements with the locals, but the
details of subcontractor practices were not ex­
plored as part of this survey.
Union Activity. Recruitment of an adequate and
qualified labor force was the main union activity
on the project as of November 1951. In connec­
tion with recruitment difficulties anticipated in
the near future, a number of union spokesmen
urged the need of a wage increase, but only one
or two indicated that active negotiations were
under way. Several, however, had submitted
evidence to the Du Pont company, the AEC,
and the Secretary of Labor showing that pre­
determined rates for their crafts were slightly
below those prevailing, and one or two adjust­
ments had been made on the basis of this evidence.
No union efforts to alter Du Pont’s working rules
and safety, medical, and other employee pro­
grams were reported. One union representative
said: “ Their safety conditions are excellent, and
the working conditions are . . . above normal in
construction” although “ all construction is bad,
to a certain extent.”
The settlement of members’ grievances was
another important union activity on the SRP.
These cases were numerous, though mostly minor,
according to union sources; some of the lower-paid
local workers, for example, “ fussed” not about
wages but about the discipline, the size, and the
strangeness of the project. Union international
representatives, specially assigned to the area in
some instances, handled a good deal of the griev­
ance work.
The locals or the internationals, or both, also
operated life insurance (and in some instances
pension or sick benefit) programs for members—
the coverage, size of member contribution, and
employer contribution (in the case of some sub­
contractors) varying between crafts. Member


contributions to both local and international
schemes were included in the monthly dues
(initiation fees and dues ranging from $20 and
$2, respectively, for laborers, to $200 and $6 for
sheet-metal workers). Dues and payments on
initiation fees were generally mailed or brought
to the union office, or collected on the site outside
working hours by the working stewards.
The SRP had an excep­
tional industrial relations record as of November
1951. In contrast to the repeated work stoppages
on some other large AEC construction projects
during the same period, only one brief stoppage
had occurred.14 On October 1, some 675 elec­
tricians, working under subcontractor super­
vision, walked out over a “ misunderstanding as
to the assignment of electricians as stand-bys
during the dry-out of transformers/’ according
to AEC. The union’s international represent­
ative was summoned and, after an all-day con­
ference on October 2, the men went back to work.
Union representatives testifying at the Novem­
ber 1951 congressional hearings reported con­
siderable unrest on the project during October,
when workers in several crafts interpreted the
cut-back in “requisitions” to the unions for labor
(hiring having been reduced because of design
delays) as presaging recruitment through non­
union sources. In their opinion, a serious stop­
page might have occurred if union officials had
not been forewarned by the company of the
hiring“ at the gate” scheduled in October (see Part
I—Manpower and Wages, p. 5), in time to explain
the situation to the membership. Describing the
strong feeling among craft workers against work­
ing with nonunion men, the ironworkers’ repre­
sentative pointed out that a member “ hanging
a float” five stories up, for example, needed
to trust the man working with him and to know
that he had been accepted by a union examining
Explanations for the SRP’s record of industrial
peace varied. Some authorities attributed it pri­
marily to the decisive management practices of the
Industrial Disputes.

H On January 7, 1952, an unauthorized stoppage of abou t 800 operating
engineers em ployed b y D u P on t followed reassignm ent of an oiler, and
app roxim ately 1,500 truck drivers failed to report the following day, appar­
e n tly in sym path y; both groups were back at work on January 9.
seq u en t stoppages reported in volved 22 team sters on M arch 6, over discharge
of a foreman and a truck driver, and 75 boilermakers on April 7-9, also over
discharge of a worker; both groups were subcontractor em ployees.

Du Pont company and its policy of insuring that
conditions of employment were at all times clearly
understood by all concerned. Others pointed out
that many locally recruited project workers had
had little previous contact with unions; those who
had were members of unions well-integrated into
the community and accustomed to peaceful rela­
tions with local contractors. “Union discipline,”
on the other hand, was responsible for the lack of
stoppages, according to some union sources. One
organization, for example, required any member
who came in with “gripes” to fill out and sign a
detailed “Member’s Grievance Report” form,
which caused many to decide that “maybe it
wasn’t a grievance after all.” When a member
of this organization came to the union office
and said his group “had a grievance and was going
out in the morning,” the business agent’s policy
was to tell him to “do that, but I’ll have some
other men up there” and hand him a grievance
form. This business agent also pointed out that
relations with Du Pont were completely handled
by the international representatives rather than by
less-experienced people.
Union officials were proud of the SRP’s peaceful
record. Various union spokemen stressed at the
hearings that their organizations were doing
“everything in their power” to prevent work stop­
pages, including jurisdictional disputes—source of
many frictions on construction projects. Du Pont
officials said that they dealt with the unions on
jurisdiction but the company decided which craft
was entitled to a job if the unions were in disagree­
ment. Representatives of several crafts criticized
Du Pont’s classification of certain jobs as nonman­
ual, hence not under union jurisdiction: the team­
sters claimed three such categories and several
unions said that the work of Du Pont’s assistant
area superintendents was normally performed by
foremen in the construction industry. But the
chief jurisdictional problem raised at the hearings
was the IAM’s long-standing claim to certain jobs
handled on the project by the carpenters and the
operating engineers. The IAM, having been
excluded from construction work and awarded
jurisdiction only over machinists hired to operate
the machine shop, had considered filing charges of
unfair labor practices and had complained to the
Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy.


Organization Before the Project

Union organization in the area adjacent to the
site was largely confined, prior to the SRP an­
nouncement, to a small, quite highly organized
group of AFL building trades in Augusta: the car­
penters (local chartered in 1899); bricklayers
(1899); plumbers (1908); electricians (1948); and
painters (December 1950, the previous locaPs
charter having been revoked a few months earlier
owing to internal differences). The other unions
represented on the project had locals chartered
elsewhere in South Carolina and Georgia (generally
at Savannah and Charleston) with jurisdiction
over the SRP area, the jurisdictional line being
drawn at the State boundary or geographically
halfway between the locals concerned. However,
none of these maintained branch offices in the area,
and indications were that local membership was
extremely limited.
The five Augusta craft unions were well estab­
lished in the city, according to local observers, and
had mutually satisfactory arrangements with
local contractors. The electricians, for example,
claimed some 90 percent of the electrical work in
Augusta before the project’s establishment. These
unions were generally regarded as “responsible,
respectable” organizations. The carpenters’ busi­
ness agent, described as the leading local labor
spokesman, had been elected to the State legis­
lature, and the union was a member in good stand­
ing of the Augusta Chamber of Commerce.
Outside the building trades, only a few small
groups—the printing trades, teachers, postal
workers, and some city workers—in Augusta were
reported to have organized, mainly postwar. The
few attempts which had been made at organizing
the textile and other manual production workers—
primarily by the CIO—were met by sharp em­
ployer resistance, strongly supported by local
public opinion.
An organizing campaign in Augusta had been
initiated by the CIO textile workers in 1949, The
union won an NLRB election in September of
that year at the Riverside Mill, a large cottonwaste plant employing mainly Negro workers.
Extensive publicity, both in the local press and
outside the area, was given to an exchange of
letters between the CIO organizing committee and
the Chamber of Commerce about a month after
the election. The committee invited “sugges­

tions, help, or criticism” from the Chamber with
regard to the organizing campaign and expressed
the conviction that the latter would prove a
blessing to the community. In reply, the Cham­
ber secretary commented on the “empty factories”
in New England and “severe dislocations” in
southern cities following CIO organizing cam­
paigns, described Augusta employers as “en­
lightened,” and suggested that the union “take
[its] ‘blessings’ elsewhere.” A collapse of worker
support for the union at the plant had followed,
the Chamber secretary said when interviewed in
November 1951. The anticipated negotiations
did not take place, nor did the strike which several
Augusta residents said “everyone feared” would
follow the election.
Reportedly some strike activity and two un­
successful NLRB elections accompanied efforts, by
CIO and other organizers, to organize the common
laborers (e. g., in brickyards) during this period.
Outside Augusta, union organization was vir­
tually nonexistent. One Aiken plumbing business
had an “on and off union shop,” but otherwise
labor was unorganized in Aiken, Barnwell, and the
other small communities in the area.
Changes in Building Trades Organization

Of the project-connected crafts which had no
locals chartered in Augusta, the boilermakers and
sheet-metal workers handled recruitment through
the Savannah and Charleston locals, respectively.
The ironworkers general executive board set up an
Augusta office under an international representa­
tive, specifically charged with supplying workers
to the project only; new members, initiation fees,
etc., were divided between the Savannah and
Charleston locals, since the project tract came
within the geographical jurisdiction of both.
Few of the workers in these crafts were recruited
locally. Organization of local workers had also
been little affected in November 1951 by recruit­
ment activities of the asbestos workers and the
IAM (Savannah local), whose combined member­
ship on the project was less than 50 at that time.
N ew Organizational Arrangements.

By the time
SRP construction hiring began in early February
1951, the AFL operating engineers, teamsters, and
laborers had set up new offices in Aiken. The
new laborers’ unit was a temporary one: existing


locals in Savannah, Charleston, and Spartanburg
(upper South Carolina) were pooled to form a
Construction and General Laborers Council, but
each local maintained its entity. In contrast,
the teamsters chartered a new local, and the
operating engineers established a fourth branch
office of the local chartered originally in Charles­
ton for the State of South Carolina.
Workers in these three categories were among
those needed in largest numbers during the initial
construction work. More laborers than any other
trade were employed on the project in November
1951, and employment of teamsters and operating
engineers exceeded that of almost all other crafts.
Further additions were scheduled in all three
trades, but a greater proportion of other crafts
would be needed as construction progressed.
Almost all the laborers and the vast majority of
truck drivers on the project at that time were local
workers, as were over half of the operating engi­
neers, according to a rough estimate by that un­
ion's business representative. All three unions
concerned referred only members or applicants
for membership to the project, and union rolls had
accordingly risen sharply.
Of the 4,000 to 4,500 members of the Laborers
Council in November 1951, some 3,000 were em­
ployed on the project, according to the council
business manager (an official from the Savannah
local). Any pre-project members of the three co­
operating locals were included, but the union esti­
mated that over 3,000 of its current members had
joined after the council was organized. This ex­
cluded some 1,500 workers who had obtained re­
funds of down payments on initiation fees after
they had been referred to the project and rejected,
plus over 1,500 additional laborers who had either
been rejected or subsequently separated and had
not continued their membership. New members
were allocated equally to the three locals by the
council. Funds were also intermittently distrib­
uted to the three locals (totaling $10,500 as of
November 1951). The council collected all dues
and fees and had about $40,000 in assets at that
time, the business manager stated at the Novem­
ber hearings, including initial loans of $1,500 from
the international and $200 each from the three
locals to get the council started.
Many new members came from the rural sec­
tions of South Carolina, where council efforts to

recruit project laborers had been vigorous, accord­
ing to the business manager. Union representa­
tives, he said, spent considerable time visiting
small communities, encouraging potential con­
struction workers to apply for project jobs, gather­
ing them into groups, and helping to arrange trans­
portation facilities to the project. Such workers
frequently did not meet union obligations after
making their $10 down payments on initiation
fees, and, since a trip to the union's Aiken office
would represent an additional 60 to 70 miles of
travel for many, the council maintained a sub­
office in the field on paydays to cash checks for
members and collect any union payments they
might wish to make. Nevertheless, an estimated
two-thirds of the membership had failed to make
the second payment on their initiation fees or were
delinquent on dues in November.
The teamsters' local was chartered under inter­
national trusteeship, following custom in estab­
lishing new locals, and the business agent was em­
ployed directly by the international. Current
membership was 1,270, less than 200 being em­
ployed outside the project. Initially, the member­
ship fee was set substantially below the $25 fixed
by the Southern Conference of Teamsters for the
Southern States, but as the local people were ab­
sorbed it was raised, and as of October the full
fee was established. Any members who came in
from other locals were required to transfer to the
Aiken unit, but most of the members were new
to the union.
Under the trusteeship arrangement, members
had a voice in raising dues and other regular pro­
cedures of the local, but the international ap­
pointed the officers. As soon as the $5,000 lent
by the international to start the local had been
paid off and it “got running," the members were
to elect their own officers. Half the loan had been
repaid in October from the $18,000 collected (ex­
clusive of refunds) at that time, and an office had
been repaired and equipped for use. Some in­
formal educational work was being attempted in
preparation for the eventual end of the trustee­
ship. One or two potential officers were given
occasional jobs to do around the office, and printed
material was distributed to the members, some
meetings were held, etc. Teaching of union dis­
cipline and the meaning of organization was hand­
icapped, however, by such factors as illiteracy


among some local workers; the latter’s total inex­
perience in union functions or any form of united
action to improve wages and working conditions;
the fact that project rates for these workers were
already higher than local pay; and the lack of
experienced union men (generally not interested in
coming to the project under existing conditions)
to serve as working stewards or otherwise to pro­
vide leadership among the rank-and-file.
Since jurisdiction of the operating engineers was
on a State basis in the area, the new Aiken office
handled all project placement but workers in
Augusta continued to come under the Savannah
local. Membership of the South Carolina local
rose from 143 shortly before establishment of the
Aiken branch to 1,887 on November 1 , 1951, al­
most all members having been hired by Du Pont
or the specialty subcontractors. Members on the
project in November numbered 1,300, the others
presumably having been separated after initial
hiring. How many of these were full-scale mem­
bers of the South Carolina unit was not clear, how­
ever: a worker belonging to another local could
either transfer his membership, if approved by the
South Carolina local, or remain a member of his
home local and pay the Aiken office a “temporary
working permit” fee; a new member also had the
option of paying the initiation fee (down payment
and balance in 30 days) or of paying the permit
fee until the “obligation of contract” was paid.
Over $130,000 had been collected by the South
Carolina local as a whole from dues, fees, and
“permits” during the first 9 months of 1951.
Membership cards were of three types in this
organization, with initiation fees and dues scaled
accordingly: apprentices, new members or appli­
cants, and full-scale qualified engineers who had
been with the organization for many years and
operated heavy equipment at top pay scales.
Only this last-mentioned group had the right to
vote, and officers were required to be elected from
among them—a regulation designed to safeguard
the organization against election of “undesirable”
persons, union spokesmen stated, since they “don’t
know who these [new members] are until such
time as they qualify.”
All three unions tried to place workers rejected
or subsequently discharged by the SRP on other
jobs in the area. A Laborers Council spokesman,
for example, said that a number of SRP medical

rejects had been placed with contractors requir­
ing no physical examination of employees;he cited
one job, not connected with the project, with 50odd such rejects out of some 60 workers. Each
of the other two organizations indicated that they
had reached agreement with one or two local con­
tractors, who would have lost their force to the
project if they had not been willing to pay union
wages. In this connection, one nonproject strike
was reported during the period following the SRP
announcement: the teamsters and laborers, em­
ployed by the State contractor constructing the
highway between Augusta and the site, walked off
the job briefly on March 23, 1951, reportedly over
organization of the job as well as wage demands.
(Wage agreement was reached on March 26.)
Preoccupation of union officials with SRP re­
cruitment, however, and the general limitation of
nonproject construction 15 to small and scattered
jobs during this period suggested that such new
organization was limited in November 1951. No
efforts were being made at that time to organize
maintenance workers employed by local firms in
these trades.
An operating engineers’ official pointed out that
his organization worked largely on big construction
jobs and would be unlikely to deal with small local
contractors. The union already had agreements
with the big contractors who might come into the
area to build a road, for example, or for some other
specific construction job; included were a number
of the project subcontractors. Establishment of
a permanent Aiken office by this organization
largely reflected the expectation, based on experi­
ence at other AEC installations, that construction
work would continue to be available on the SRP
even after major facilities were completed.
on A ugu sta U n ion s . Existing Augusta
unions were unevenly affected by the project,
depending on the size of project needs for each
craft, local contractor activity, whether in-migrant
union members transferred to the Augusta local,
and so on. The addition of project workers in­
creased the membership of all these unions and
their funds, available for future organizational
efforts as well as current activities. Some wage
increases were negotiated for nonproject workers
as indicated in Part I-—Manpower and Wages,


ls O nly a few local contractors had project subcontracts, generally for jobs
requiring a fairly sm all nu m b er of workers.


page 10. But indications were that existing rela­
tions with local contractors had changed little as
of November 1951.
None of these Augusta locals had more than a
few hundred members before SRP construction
began—the largest being the carpenters with 525
members. Project employment of carpenters,
the only trade other than laborers with over 3,000
employed on the SRP in November, was nearly
5 times that of any other of the Augusta-organized
crafts, and membership in the Augusta local had
risen to more than 3,000—almost all project em­
ployees. Figures are not available on how many
of these workers had retained their membership
in other locals, however, which they were per­
mitted to do by paying the Augusta local the
equivalent of its monthly dues.
Union administration of the over 600 members
of the plumbers and pipefitters* union on the SRP
was kept separate from that of nonproject mem­
bers, the international and the local having
jointly set up a special office in Augusta about the
first of March to handle project work. It was not
clear how many project workers were additions to
the Augusta local's membership. (No member­
ship figures were available.) Over 300 applicants
for membership had been hired on the project
since its start, as well as some 600 union men; but
many of the latter retained membership elsewhere,
according to a union spokesman, and a number of
these had quit due to inadequate take-home pay.
An electrical workers* official stated that the
majority of the over 700 SRP electricians had
retained membership in other locals and benefited
the Augusta organization little, either temporarily
or over the long-run. However, the latter's
membership had risen from 119 (of whom 88
had taken SRP jobs) to 341 in November, in­
cluding transfers from other locals as well as
new members. Membership in the painters*
local stood at 138 at the end of September,
including 43 transfers from the local whose charter
had been revoked; over 100 members were on the
project. The bricklayers initiated 110 new mem­
bers during the first 10 months of 1951, raising
membership to 321. About 100 were currently
employed on the project, including 35 new union
members as well as members of other locals, who
had the option of transferring to the Augusta

The bricklayers’ union was the only organization
reporting a dues increase after the project's
announcement. The increase—to the same level
fixed during World War II—was necessitated
by the extra work entailed in manning the project,
according to union officials, which required
employment of a full-time business agent as had
been necessary for defense construction during
the war.
unions in Aiken and Augusta established a joint
building-trades council in the summer of 1951,
but information on its membership and activity
in November was inconsistent. Both the presi­
dent and vice president were officials of organiza­
tions newly established in Aiken, and union com­
ments suggested that the newer groups were
taking the lead in organizing the council.
Describing the council as active and functioning,
thus enabling union officers to talk over problems
and exchange information, the council vice
president said that all the crafts had joined
except the carpenters, who were expected to do so
shortly. Another unionist new to the area
indicated that the council had been meeting for
some time, but that the November hearings
really “got them going"; all the locals were in,
he stated, except the electricians, who had a juris­
dictional dispute with several other crafts. On
the other hand, two Augusta union officials said
neither of their crafts was a member. One of
them was convinced the unions would be stronger
in dealing with the company if they were unified,
but his organization traditionally worked alone.
The other asserted that Augusta had not had a
joint building-trades council in 20 years, though a
Central Labor Union representing all AFL locals
in the city was active; as for the newly formed
council, several important crafts did not belong,
he commented, and in his opinion it did not amount
to much.
Although the Congressional hearings in No­
vember tended to unite the unions, according to
some observers, they also brought into the open
existing discords, particularly between the pre­
project Augusta unions and the newly established
Aiken units. Dealing with members of the
United States Congress was a new experience for
most local representatives and appeared to
Relations B e t w e e n U n i o n s .


intensify existing resentments. One Augusta offi­
cial, for example, called the Congressmen’s at­
tention to the fact that his organization “is not a
lodge nor a local from Savannah or Columbia
operating up here, but is right here in Augusta.”
Another Augusta business manager, interviewed
shortly after the hearings, termed the newly
arrived unions “fly-by-night outfits” and was
vehement in his opinion that if a union is going
to do business it should “set up an office and do
business regularly,” whether employment and
organizational opportunities go up or down.
Negro Membership .

Negro members of buildingtrades unions in the SEP area were largely con­
centrated as of November 1951 in the laborers’
union, with smaller numbers in the teamster,
bricklayer, and carpenter organizations. Negroes
were employed in no other crafts on the project,
though at least one craft union reportedly included
colored helpers (not employed on the project in
this category) in its membership. A few Negroes
were reported to have applied for union referral
to the SRP in some of these other crafts, but
apparently none had as yet been admitted to
membership in the locals in the SRP area nor
referred to the project.
Common laborers were customarily colored, in
the area. The bricklayers’ union, with local
jurisdiction over the “ trowel trades,” was the one
craft traditionally mixed racially there; all local
cement finishers were Negroes, an Augusta
source observed, and, except for a few masons
(including the president), the bricklayers’ member­
ship would therefore be colored. The new teamster
local included both races, the preponderance be­
ing white. Queried by a New York Times re­
porter concerning charges of discrimination in
admission to the union (see Part I—Manpower and
Wages, p. 7), the carpenters’ head stated that the
organization had admitted Negroes in the South
since 1941. At the time the project started, how­
ever, the Augusta local had no Negro members, and,
according to local sources, the only colored mem­
bers in the general area belonged to a segregated
local in Columbia, S. C. The Augusta local was
reported to have admitted colored members be­
ginning in the late summer of 1951. Information
on the status of these members with regard to
segregation was somewhat conflicting, but recent

reports from the area indicate that changes are
currently in process in union arrangements for
handling project workers, both white and colored.
Effect on Other Workers

The only new organizational development re­
ported among nonconstruction workers in the SRP
area during the period under review was in Barn­
well, in the small zipper company which a few
years earlier had moved into a building leased from
the Barnwell development corporation. The new
plant was “ just getting on its feet” and strong
public resentment accompanied an attempt by
its workers, in the spring of 1951, to form a union.
Reports on the circumstances surrounding the
attempt varied. One local official pointed out
that the plant came originally from New York,
where it had been having “ labor troubles” at
the time of its move; in his opinion,union organizers
had followed the company to the area, although
several workers in the plant were “ key agitators”
in the movement for a union. On the other hand,
some observers suggested that the effort to organize
had originated with the plant employees cited,
who were seeing unions in operation for the first
time, and that they had got in touch with union
organizers through one of the construction unions.
In any case, these workers were included in a
group laid off by the company, and the Internation­
al Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (AFL) filed
charges of unfair labor practices with the NLRB
in late May 1951. NLRB investigators visited
the area and found that lack of orders had in
fact forced the company to lay off workers; how­
ever, when rehiring began the workers in question
were to be included.
With regard to the expectations of community
leaders and local residents concerning the longrange effect of the project on local labor, some were
apprehensive that organized labor would now
“move in” on the area and bring “labor troubles”
for the first time. Others asserted, on the basis
of the “temporary” nature of SRP construction
work, that the new organization of local labor was
a passing phenomenon only and conditions would
return to “normal” as construction declined.
Experience at other AEC installations supplies
no guide to the probable long-run effect of such a
project on local organization; major local indus­


tries were already organized and in some instances
the projects were considerably more isolated than
is the SRP. Some observers pointed out the
various difficulties generally encountered in organ­
izing workers in the South. Others stressed that
the permanent effect would in any case depend
largely on the organization of “permanent” SRP
workers after manufacturing operations got under

way. Both the CIO chemical workers and the
AFL metal trades unions have organized AEC
plants, the latter having far greater membership
among atomic energy workers. At the time the
SRP was studied in November 1951, representa­
tives of the AFL Metal Trades Department met
and mapped an “intensive and continuous”
organizing campaign in AEC installations.

HI.—Housing and
Changes in Population

services and on private development and financing
to supply the housing required for in-migrant
workers. AEC hoped in this way to avoid the
continuing difficulties that had been encountered
in operating such communities at other production
centers—difficulties disproportionately large in re­
lation to the small part which the towns repre­
sented in the over-all atomic-energy program.
Administration of these towns had given rise to
congressional criticism of waste and lack of selfgovernment and myriad complaints of all kinds
from town residents, and labor relations had been
complicated with questions of rent, housing stand­
ards, and other living conditions.
Admittedly the new policy involved important
problems for the SRP, particularly during con­
struction, since the adequacy of housing as well as
other living facilities was a substantial factor in
manning the project. Therefore, AEC authorized
special arrangements with private contractors to
provide temporary housing near existing com­
munities for those construction workers who, esti­
mates indicated, could not be otherwise housed.
The AEC project staff also supported community
requests for aid to Congress and Federal agencies;
supplied information on manpower schedules and
available Federal services to community officials,
and on local housing and facilities in relation to
manning plans to Federal agencies; and made
available their experience in handling community
problems gained at other AEC installations.

Over 10,000 in-migrant construction workers had
been housed in the Savannah River Plant (SRP)
area as of November 1951—largely in existing
structures. Rooms, houses, and apartments had
been sufficient in number, although they were not
always of the kind desired and numerous stories
circulated of workers living in crowded or other­
wise undesirable quarters. Few workers had left
the project specifically because of housing defi­
ciencies, but various union sources cited instances
of individuals who had left the area without
applying for SRP jobs when they were unable to
find adequate housing. The number of in-migrant
workers was scheduled to more than double by
the time SRP construction reached its peak.
Both temporary and new permanent housing was
expected to become available before that time,
Housing availability largely determined the geo­
graphical distribution of SRP-incurred population
increases, at the time of this survey, tending to
increase the concentration in the Augusta-Aiken
metropolitan area. Lesser numbers of project
workers had located in the other South Carolina
towns, particularly since persons connected with
Camp Gordon occupied a considerable amount of
the housing available in Augusta. Large-scale
population increases in these smaller towns were
expected during the period when temporary hous­
ing was located in or near them, but, with the pos­
sible exception of Barnwell, major long-range
changes appeared likely to be confined chiefly to
the larger communities.

Project Workers’ Housing

Most authorities expressed the opinion that a
critical shortage of housing for SRP workers had
been avoided only because the cut-back in hiring
rates beginning in September 1951 (see Part I—
Manpower and Wages, p. 3) had reduced the flow
of in-migrants substantially. Both proj ect officials
and community leaders had anticipated that, as
of September, most existing housing would be
occupied and available to newcomers only as
workers left the area or moved into newly con­
structed homes. Nevertheless, in-migrants who
came into the area during September and October
were absorbed, in spite of delays in temporary as
well as permanent housing erection. Some local

AEC Policy

Benefiting from previous experience, AEC had
departed from earlier policy on its major construc­
tion projects and had decided to build no “Govern­
ment town” on the site for SRP workers, either
temporary or permanent.16 Instead, it relied on
existing communities to furnish facilities and
10 N o G overnm ent tow n had been b u ilt a t the Arco, Idaho, A E C project,
b u t th is w as a m u ch sm aller project, w ith a slow er construction schedule.
A sim ilar p olicy w as also being followed in th e construction of the Paducah,
K y ., installation, also som ew h at sm aller th an th e S R P .



sources commented that they were continually
amazed at the “expandability” of the area.
To minimize the housing and facilities problem,
the SRP utilized local workers as extensively as
possible. As of mid-October, however, nearly
13,000 SRP workers (over 60 percent of SRP
hires at that time) had been recruited from out­
side the 50-mile “commuting area,” although
some had quit the project and left the area. (This
figure also included an undetermined number of
commuters who lived beyond the 50-mile radius.)
Data are not available on the number of family
members coming in with the in-migrant workers.
Du Pont used newspaper advertisements, teams
of room scouts, and other means in an effort to
locate and have landlords make available to SRP
personnel whatever housing existed within the
50-mile commuting radius. A central housing
listing of available rental units was kept, and
workers were referred to landlords from this list.
In some instances, particularly in newly con­
structed rental units, Du Pont reserved apart­
ments and some houses for rental to project
workers (until the first such occupancy) by leas­
ing unoccupied units and paying the rents until
the contracts were transferred to workers.
Savannah River Plant A re a , November 1951

A large
proportion of the workers were reportedly living
in housing made available in existing structures.
Some “give” had been created in Augusta in the
first half of 1950 when Camp Gordon was sched­
uled for stand-by status following the construc­
tion boom of the late 1940’s, but by the time SRP
hiring began, servicemen and their families had
already begun to fill available units (in North
Augusta as well as Augusta) and they continued
to compete for housing. Little postwar con­
struction had occurred in the South Carolina
communities affected, although a slight postwar
population decline gave them some “cushion”
for the SRP influx.
People opened up new rental units on a large
scale in both Aiken and Augusta, as they had
done during World War II, many taking roomers
for the first time, converting rooms and houses to
apartments, and opening or expanding rooming
and boarding houses. Some such housing was
made available in the smaller South Carolina
communities, but in Barnwell, for example, local
sources indicated that residents tended to rent
rooms only when prospective renters approached
them: it was not customary to fix up rental
quarters in advance for an unknown renter—he
might want something totally different or the
owner might not want him as a tenant. (Pre­
project renting was largely restricted to houses
for tenant farmers, and when a prospective tenant
saw a house he wanted to rent, he and the owner
worked out the rent on the basis of what improve­
ments were wanted.) Even after the demand
began to appear, people continued to be reluctant
to take in strangers. Some did so, however, a
notable example being an army-barracks type of
project built by a veteran in the spring of 1951
with capacity for some 40 men. Once the new
arrivals started getting acquainted, they frequently
moved in with people who had previously refused
to take roomers.
Detailed information on the quality of such
housing was not available, although both long­
time residents and newly arrived people cited
instances of cots being crowded into small rooms,
lack of heat, and so on. Other examples cited
were share-cropper shacks which had been moved
off the site to nearby locations, “some paint and
Existing Structures and Private Trailers.


a few nails” applied, and either sold or rented to
SRP workers.
The conviction was unanimous among Augusta
and Aiken sources that the “saturation point”
had finally been reached in their communities as
of November 1951. Some housing was reportedly
still available in the less urban communities: A
Barnwell official cited several big old homes,
occupied by lone individuals who did not want to
take people in, as proof that not all the “conver­
sion-type” housing had been tapped. Project
officials too indicated that during the relative lull
in hiring in September and October a number of
rooms had been located in the commuting area
which were already available or could be made
so if critically needed. In their opinion, a suffi­
cient backlog of listings had been built up to
take care of the immediate demand even when
large-scale hiring started once more.
Some 1,600 trailers were also parked in the area
as of October 31; most of these were brought in
by the workers, with a few purchased locally.
The trailers were generally regarded as comfort­
able, convenient quarters for their migrant owners.
But again instances were cited (particularly among
the early arrivals who had located either on or
very near the site) of workers living in make­
shift trailers—old cars or trucks which had been
converted to some kind of dwelling. Some people
had lived in tents during the summer of 1951 and
one family was described as having set up furni­
ture in the open, as if in the various rooms of a
house, using a covered truck for shelter in bad
Of the trailers in the area in October, only
about 200 were located in lots which were not
planned parks. When hiring began in February
1951, several thousand workers were expected to
bring trailers to the area, and a few trailer parks
had already been started near the site to provide
facilities for them. Most courts were set up by
people new to the business, frequently local resi­
dents. They were assisted in locating and plan­
ning parks by a representative of the Trailer
Coach Manufacturers Association, stationed in
Aiken from early 1951 until August. Over 60
parks were in operation by November. In addi­
tion to the occupied spaces, nearly 1,000 were
vacant and a comparable number planned.
Trailers in the area at that time, housing less than

10 percent of the SUP construction force, num­
bered somewhat fewer than had been anticipated
on the basis of experience at other AEC installa­
tions. The proportionate number of trailers,
however, was expected to increase as the ratio of
skilled to other workers rose in ensuing months.
N ew Construction. A relatively small proportion
of SRP workers were in newly constructed hous­
ing in November 1951, according to local sources,
but information was not available on the exact
amount of total building completed or under con­
struction in the area. At the time of the announce­
ment of the project, several hundred housing units
were under construction, or authorized, in local
communities, without regard to project needs.
Plans for additional units were subsequently
drawn, and a considerable number of Federal
Housing Administration commitments were made
for insuring mortgages on new construction.
Many of these commitments, as well as a good
share of the housing being undertaken without
FHA guarantees, were in Richmond County, avail­
able for residents connected with Camp Gordon
as well as for SRP employees.
To stimulate new residential construction spe­
cifically for SRP employees, the Housing and
Home Finance Agency in March 1951 programmed
1,000 rental and 150 sales units for relaxation of
credit restraints on construction (subsequently the
restraints were suspended for these units). Based
on employment estimates in February 1951, the
HHFA had set a total of 3,600 units as the mini­
mum new construction needed to house perma­
nent SRP personnel (both AEC and Du Pont).
The remaining 2,450 units were to be programmed
after necessary water and sewage facilities were
extended. This housing, while designed to take
care of long-term needs, would have been avail­
able to any SRP employee, whether a “tempo­
rary” construction or an operations worker.
Authorizations were issued, to eligible employees
certified by AEC (largely construction workers),
for construction of almost all of the sales units,
but only some 20 of the rental units had been
started by October 1951. Indications were that
housing starts outside the HHFA program were
also relatively limited. Some new housing was, of
course, under construction throughout the period
under review, such as the homes which a number


of AEC employees were having built in Aiken, and
several developments (including some prefabri­
cated housing) started by local builders in Barn­
well. Local residents described this as a rapid
housing expansion. But the HHFA field repre­
sentative pointed out that current construction
activity, while more than usual in the small South
Carolina towns and more than Augusta had had in
its early 1950 slump, was inadequate for the antic­
ipated demand. (Further, some of the “new”
dwelling units in the towns nearest the project
boundary were houses moved from the site.)
Lack of financing was the main deterrent to new
construction, attributed partly to the terms re­
quired for FHA insurance of mortgages and partly
to lack of mortgage money in any case (following
the removal of Federal Reserve Board support for
Government bonds). Limited water and sewage
facilities were also a deterrent but to a lesser de­
gree, for builders in some instances supplied inde­
pendent facilities or financed extensions.17 (As one
observer pointed out, however, the necessity for
a builder to figure provision of such facilities in
his costs was a factor in the type of housing pro­
vided; a buyer, for example, obtained less for a
given price than he would in areas where facilities
were already available.) Building materials, al­
though reported to be short in mid-1951, were
apparently no insurmountable obstacle, since
builders applying for HHFA authorizations in
October 1951 indicated no problem in this regard.18
With Presidential approval of the Defense
Housing and Community Facilities and Service
Act on September 1, 1951, it was generally ex­
pected that the construction needed for SRP
personnel would finally be started. By amending
the National Housing Act, the new legislation
liberalized FHA mortgage-insurance terms for
building loans to meet defense housing require­
ments in critical areas.19 Builders in the SRP
17 In B arnw ell, for exam ple, som e extensions had been financed b y builders
as a loan to th e tow n, w hich could n o t itself finance th e additions. T h is had
m ad e som e new housing possible, b u t on ly insofar as builders could afford
th e added in vestm en t. T h e c ity planner cited one housing developm ent,
planned by a local firm, w h ich w as on ly one-third com pleted because the
firm could afford no m ore of th e add ed in vestm en t for facilities.
18 Shortages of structural steel eased su b stan tially in early 1952 and in February-M arch th e N a tio n a l Produ ction A u th ority relaxed building controls
on com m ercial structures already started and construction of new churches,
m unicipal buildings and com m u n ity centers, hom es, schools, and high w ays.
19 T h e new legislation also provided (1) lim ited assistance to defense com m u­
nities for water an d sew age facilities an d (2) additional authority for
th e Federal N ation al M ortgage A ssociation (F N M A ) to m ake advan ce

area could obtain FHA insurance under the
liberalized terms for units which met HHFA
requirements as to rentals and were made avail­
able to project workers.
In mid-October, HHFA announced that it
would program immediately the full 3,600 units
needed, although action had not been completed
on appropriations to make the new legislation
effective and FHA was not yet accepting applica­
tions under its terms. Thus, preliminary steps
toward construction could be taken even for
housing which could not be built until the new
legislation was implemented. Existing aids, prin­
cipally the defense-area exception from credit
restrictions, were available for all units covered,
including those previously programmed but not
built as well as the newly added units. Accord­
ingly, HHFA was prepared to issue authorizations
to build 3,300 rental and 130 sales units, and
applications were to be filed immediately.
Local observers reported that the liberalized
mortgage insurance terms were so attractive to
builders in the project area that HHFA immedi­
ately received applications for many times the
number of units eligible for aid. In mid-Novem­
ber, HHFA announced distribution to builders of
certificates for the full number authorized (except
for those allocated to North Augusta, issued
shortly thereafter on completion of plans for
provision of facilities). Provided that builders
were now able to obtain financing, the first of these
units were expected to become available for
occupancy in March or April 1952, with the
remainder to be completed by July. Some
question was raised as to whether the number of
units programmed for the permanent staff would
prove adequate over the long run, and project
officials were also concerned at that time as to
whether the housing—generally small and cheap—
would be desirable to operations personnel.
According to recent information, 1,000 of the
rental units certified had been completed by mid1952, and most of the remainder were under way.
The vast majority of the total sales units also had
been or were being constructed.
com m itm ents to purchase m ortgages u n til th e end of 1951. P en d in g im p le­
m entation of th e legislation, how ever, H H F A approved applications on ly if
adequate basic facilities appeared to be available w ith o u t recourse to the
facilities aid authorized; F N M A purchase of secondary m ortgages was little
k n o w n and little used in the S R P area.

Tem porary H ou sin g.
AEC authorized Du Pont
to award temporary housing contracts guar­
anteeing to the contractor payment of amounts
equivalent to the revenue normally required to
amortize the investment. This was a recognition
that, without special incentive, private develop­
ment would not provide sufficient housing for the
large-scale but temporary influx of construction
workers. Difficulties were numerous in planning
the timing and size of such a program, even
assuming that SRP construction proceeded on
schedule, since project officials had to rely on rough
estimates. It was impossible to know, for ex­
ample, exactly how much housing would be
constructed or opened up for SRP workers; how
many workers would commute, own trailers, bring
families (either immediately or later); what the
in-migrant turn-over rate would be; and so on.
As noted, it was generally anticipated that no
vacant housing would be available in September
1951. Accordingly, Du Pont in June invited
bids on contracts to supply temporary housing
for 4,000 families and 7,500 single men in the
vicinity of communities surrounding the site.
Two contracts were awarded in August, one for
trailers in camps of 500 to 1,000 units for family
occupancy and the other for 75 barracks-type
buildings housing 100 single men each. Du Pont
guaranteed 90 percent of the rents set on the
former, for 52 months, and 100 percent of the rents
for single accommodations for 24 months. Either
contract could be canceled or reduced at any time
within these guaranteed periods by payment
according to a stipulated termination schedule.20
Contractors were to furnish land and all utilities,
provide limited hotel-type management of single
workers' quarters, and remove and dispose of all
facilities after their purpose was served. It was
hoped that through this novel arrangement tem­
porary needs would be met adequately without
creating future “ghost towns” and at a much
lower cost to the Government than that of outright
Government construction.
The first units were not available for occupancy
on September 1, as planned. Actual signing of
the contracts was delayed, owing among other
things to the contractors' difficulties in obtaining
financing. As of mid-November, some of the
30 D u P o n t also agreed to negotiate a m u tu a lly satisfactory arrangem ent
w ith th e contractors if established rates exceeded those su b seq u en tly ap­
proved b y rent control authorities.

barracks were under construction at Barnwell,
but the trailer contractor was still selecting
appropriate sites, and none of either type was
Over half the family units were completed by
mid-1952, and they were being occupied as rapidly
as they were installed, according to recent infor­
mation. The barracks program had been reduced
to 4,500 spaces, however, as few were being
utilized (890 dormitory spaces were filled on
July 8, 1952; all barracks had been completed
at that time). Explanations for this latter situa­
tion varied. Some observers attributed it to the
undesirable quality of the housing offered; most
of the in-migrant construction workers were skilled
or semiskilled men with relatively high wages,
they pointed out, and were not likely to be satis­
fied with such housing. Others suggested that the
“expandability” of the area had been underesti­
mated. However, still other sources emphasized
the contrasting demand for the temporary family
units and suggested that the number of construc­
tion workers who would come to the area without
families had been overestimated. (Various ob­
servers have noted the postwar change in the
mobile construction force, from a group composed
chiefly of unattached workers to one made up
largely of men who take families with them from
job to job.)
Effect on Local Housing Conditions

Rent increases (see Part I—Manpower and
Wages, p. 10) had in some instances created hard­
ships for those pre-project residents housed in
rental dwellings not only in terms of money but
also because of the forced reduction in housing
standards. One family reportedly had its rent
raised, immediately after the SRP announcement,
on a house it had occupied for over 10 years; un­
connected with the project and with no means of
augmenting their income, they were forced to
move. Another family, also forced out by a rent
increase, had moved three times as of November,
each time having the house “sold out from under
them.” They were described as currently living
in a place where “you can see through the cracks
in the walls.”
Other than examples such as these, most of the
criticism of housing quality noted in November
1951 referred to the facilities provided the new-


comers rather than to changes in housing condi­
tions of pre-project residents. Little specific in­
formation was available on how many newly
rented rooms, for instance, were actually surplus
before the SRP. But inevitably absorption of
major population increases in existing structures
produced some crowding, particularly in the larger
The planned housing construction offered little
immediate possibility of easing overcrowded con­
ditions; existing units vacated in the metropolitan
sections would be in demand by new in-migrants
even after temporary housing (in many instances
less centrally located and otherwise less desirable)
became available. No other large-scale new con­
struction was reported to be imminent, and Camp
Gordon was still expanding, further increasing the
pressure on Augusta housing. Congested condi­
tions in the larger communities thus appeared
likely to continue until SRP construction passed
its peak.
Similarly, it appeared unlikely that the new
construction stimulated by SRP housing needs
would contribute much to long-term elimination
of substandard units in the area. Federal author­
ities rated as substandard approximately half of
the pre-project dwellings in Augusta and some 20
percent in the South Carolina communities other
than Aiken, which had only about 5 percent such
In explaining the long-term development plans
for Augusta and that city’s objection to “ shoddy
shantytown construction” or other temporary
housing, the city planner told a reporter in the
fall of 1951 that, if too much permanent housing
were constructed during the “ 3-year boom,” units
left over after construction workers departed would
be used to clean out slum areas. But the general
limitation of planned construction to that expected
to be needed by the permanent AEC staff, the
restriction of building incentives to housing re­
served for project workers, and the continuing
needs of Camp Gordon personnel suggested that
any such improvement would be minor. Further,
substandard housing was reportedly most severe
in the Negro sections of town, and few Negroes
were expected to be among the in-migrant SRP
operations personnel for whom the new construc­
tion was planned. Presumably congestion in the
Negro sections had not been increased by SRP

in-migration at the time of this survey, since no
Negro workers were reported to have come into
the area for project work. Late in May 1951,
when the press noted that colored tenant farmers
were arriving in Augusta in search of jobs and
housing, it was stated that white housing was
barely sufficient and that the Negro population
was “ vastly overcrowded.”
However, the long-term situation depended upon
the accuracy of the estimates on which the new
construction was programmed, as well as whether
the planned units were actually built.
Population Changes in the Area

Identification of the project with production of
materials for possible use in a hydrogen bomb gave
it national prominence and people all over the
country soon heard rumors of possibilities such as
high-paying jobs, and big sales. During the 2%
months immediately following the November 1950
SRP announcement, both the Aiken and Augusta
Chambers of Commerce were flooded with letters
of inquiry, received midnight telephone calls from
workers who had “just heard” and wanted infor­
mation, and so on. But large numbers of workers
arrived without bothering to inquire—frequently
with families and without funds. Most of them
moved on when they found no jobs yet available
(see discussion in Part I, p. 5); after wage
rates were announced and hiring began, the influx
became more orderly. Meantime, however, the
chaotic initial arrival of workers had caused serious
problems and given rise to widespread publicity
and local fears concerning the disruption to come.
The only estimates of total population increases
for the area as a whole available in November 1951
were those made by the Augusta Chamber of
Commerce. Based on the estimated increase
from Camp Gordon plus the project employment
and average annual employment rises, and assum­
ing three additional family members per worker,
the Chamber estimated that the population of
Richmond County had increased 35,000 between
the 1950 Census and October 1951, to a total of
144,000. During the same period, they estimated
the population of Aiken and Barnwell Counties in
South Carolina had increased 25,000, to a total
of 97,000.
Local comment in some of the South Carolina
communities suggested that the latter figure was


somewhat high, and the population increase in
Augusta (accounting for two-thirds of Richmond
County’s 1950 population) was estimated in
September by the city planner at only 7,000.
But how nearly any of the estimates approximated
the actual increase was impossible to corroborate,
and how much of the Augusta area population
rise was attributable to the SEP as distinct from
Camp Gordon was equally impossible to ascertain.
In addition to the lack of exact figures on in­
migrant SRP workers or their families, no esti­
mates had been made of the number of other
persons attracted to the area by the project.
Most of the new distributive and service concerns
were reportedly small, and some had been started
by local residents.

money, don’t know where they’re going or what
they’re going to do.” 21
Tenant farmers had “disappeared overnight,”
it was reported. The general shortage of farm
workers had caused landowners in other South
Carolina and Georgia counties, and even in other
States, to advertise and send requests for share
croppers immediately after the SRP announce­
ment. The demand for share croppers elsewhere
brought little response apparently, but site
tenants were variously described as (1) being
anxious to stay in the area and tending to wait
until their white employers decided what to do,
(2) having taken SRP jobs as laborers, or (3)
having found new landlords in adjacent or nearby
Proj ect
officials emphasized the importance of disper­
sion of project workers throughout the area,
to minimize traffic and other problems. Of
course, the workers were scattered in the sense
that they were not all living in a specially built
development nor even in one town, but were
dispersed throughout a given community. In
fact, however, their preferences, housing availa­
bility, and other such factors tended to produce
a certain amount of concentration.
Owing to their size, Aiken and Augusta bore the
brunt of the first disorganized and disruptive in­
flux. Worker preference for living where metro­
politan facilities were accessible continued to
influence the distribution of the SRP force so long
as quarters were sufficiently available to permit
some choice, and would again become important
when the construction force began to decline. In
November 1951, the main determinant was avail­
ability of housing, but this also contributed to the
SRP workers being chiefly concentrated in Augus­
ta, suburban North Augusta, and nearby Aiken.
The main body of single workers (or workers with
families outside the area) was reported to be
centered in the rooming houses in or near down­
town Augusta; workers with families were some­
what more dispersed. Project officials estimated
roughly that about half the force was in Georgia
(including locally recruited workers, of whom a
Distribution of S R P Workers in November.

Those site residents who had
moved out by November 1951 generally had
located in neighboring sections but reports as to
how many had left, the status of the remainder,
and related information were somewhat conflict­
ing. The site was being purchased progressively,
in relation to construction schedules. Federal
and State agricultural agencies helped relocate
displaced families, especially the landless Negro
share croppers who made up the bulk of the site
population. Du Pont officials stated in Novem­
ber 1951 that thus far people had been evacuated
only from the areas where construction was
currently going on or where it was necessary to
obtain the land for access purposes.
Purchases had been completed at that time
on a little over a third of the tracts involved,
and the former landowners were reported to have
found new homes and new farms in nearby
counties or elsewhere in the two States. Most of
the few site businesses, largely located in Ellenton
and very prosperous owing to the project-created
business “boom,” had already been, or were
scheduled to be, moved to nearby communities
such as Jackson or New Ellenton, as were a number
of the site houses, including the tenant shacks
mentioned. Several observers commented that
the rate of land acquisition was causing trouble,
however, particularly in Ellenton, where “most of
the people are still waiting for the assessor, can’t
do anything about moving until they have some

Residents .

21 A ll E llen ton residents had left th e to w n b y M arch 1,1952; som e 80 percent
of the 150 houses there, it w as reported, had been m oved in th e process o f
evacu ation.


much larger proportion came from South Carolina
than from Georgia).
By November, Barnwell had absorbed a sub­
stantial number of workers. The town was closer
to the site than some of the other communities,
and Barnwell leaders had actively welcomed in­
migrants, new housing had been started, etc. A
census of Barnwell (taken in September by field
workers from the University of North Carolina as
part of a long-term urbanization study of the area22
and published in October) showed only an increase
of a few hundred over the 1950 census total of
nearly 2,000. Residents labeled the findings erro­
neous, although the study group pointed out that
the census covered only “ old Barnwell,” excluding
the area added by the extension of the city limits.23
One local official interviewed said that he could
himself have “ counted more new residents than
that even without a full census” and put the total
population at more nearly 3,000. Others, however,
said that the recorded increase was small because
the count was taken just when the influx really
began in Barnwell.
Relatively small numbers of SRP workers were
housed in the other small towns as of November.
An Allendale source, for example, said that the
town“ didn’t feel the project at all” until early sum­
mer, and when project workers eventually began
coming, they did so gradually, since “ after all,
Allendale didn’t have manyrooms, apartments, and
so on.” Various observers stressed, however, that
even small additions to towns of this size repre­
sented proportionately great population rises.
Less than 100 trailers were in Richmond County,
on the fringes of Augusta, although some were
parked within the Aiken city limits. A number
of trailers were located in both Barnwell and
Williston; several “ trailer communities” had
grown up on the highways between Augusta and
the project; and some workers were living in
trailers or local dwellings on the site at Ellenton.
(One source estimated in November th&t about
half the population of the town consisted of in­
migrants, who would have to move when the town
was evacuated.) Most trailers, however, were
22 T h e 2-year s tu d y w as sponsored b y the H H F A and th e U . S. P u b lic
H ea lth Service and w as to cover (1) urban grow th of the plant area and (2)
changes in habits and attitu d es of present and incom ing population.
« B arnw ell extended the tow n lim its in June 1951. T hree m on ths later,
A iken voted dow n a sim ilar proposal. Sh ortly thereafter N orth A ugusta
and four suburbs voted annexation—increasing th e former’s area more than
fiv e tim es an d alm ost dou bling th e population.

concentrated in New Ellenton, a new community
which had sprung up some 4 miles outside the site
boundary on the highway to Aiken. Some SRP
workers were also housed there in shacks moved
from the site and set up in development style,
and some small bungalows had been rapidly
New Ellenton was frequently regarded as a
permanent addition to the other towns in the area.
Initially some of the residents of Ellenton had
moved to the new location with the idea of per­
petuating the old town’s name. A number of
eating places and supermarkets were operating
or under construction there at the time of this
survey—also a movie tent was set up on one side
of the highway and a Gospel tent on the other.
In mid-November, a few New Ellenton residents
met to work out some type of formal status for the
town (chiefly in order to get help on their serious
water-facilities problem, according to local sources).
Several local observers questioned the permanence
of New Ellenton, however, noting that the com­
munity was still largely made up of trailer residents
and “ when they pull out it will be pretty hard hit.”
Something would undoubtedly continue on a
permanent basis, in their opinion, but just how
much was questionable.
The tiny “ crossroads community” of Jackson,
less than a mile from the site boundary, had grown
sufficiently to be incorporated as a town in June
1951. Press reports described a population rise
from 200 before the project to 1,000 in October
Most observers antici­
pated that SRP workers would locate in large
numbers in the smaller pre-project towns only
during the period when temporary housing was
available. Location of sites for the temporary
units had constituted a real problem, particularly
in view of the need for sites where adequate basic
facilities could be provided; in addition, residents
of the larger communities were reluctant to have
temporary housing (particularly the barracks)
near their towns. Finally, slightly over half the
trailers were scheduled to be located near Aiken
and Augusta. Both temporary barracks and
trailers were to be erected near Barnwell and
Williston, and barracks near Allendale. (In
November 1951, indications were that a large

Long-Range Expectations.


proportion of the workers to be housed in tem­
porary units would thus reside in the smaller towns;
the relatively greater use of the trailers had modi­
fied this expectation somewhat by mid-1952,
although the construction force had not reached
its peak level, and it was still possible that the
rate of dormitory occupancy would rise.)
In contrast, nearly three-fourths of the HHFAprogrammed new construction was scheduled for
Augusta, North Augusta, and Aiken. Barnwell
was allocated less than a tenth of the total, and
the remainder was distributed fairly evenly among
Allendale, Williston, and Blackville. Local sources
commented that, while some residents planned
construction in the smaller towns, the “big real
estate people” were interested in building only in
the “ Aiken-Augusta sweep,” reflecting the general
expectation that the SRP force would tend to
concentrate in that area once project construction
declined. Contributing to this view was the fact
that if the gates to the project were shut,24 Allen­
dale would be virtually cut off from Augusta and
its metropolitan facilities, and the distance from
Barnwell to Augusta would be greatly increased
on existing highways. Persons moving from the
site to such communities as Williston, Jackson,
and New Ellenton of course represented perma­
nent, if small, population increases.
Barnwell officials were reported to be dis­
appointed at the small allocation of HHFAprogrammed building to that town. As noted
previously on page 2, influential leaders in both
Augusta and Barnwell hoped that new industry
could be attracted by the availability of skilled
labor as SRP construction declined. These com­
munities therefore welcomed construction as well
as operations personnel and expected permanent
24 P lan s in N ovem ber called for one road through th e project, b u t this
m igh t ev en tu ally be closed too.

population additions from both groups. Some
people doubted that the construction workers
would remain in the area. Local residents gen­
erally, in fact, tended to regard SRP construction
as a 3-year job after which “temporary” workers
would depart and only the relatively small opera­
tions force would remain as permanent additions
to the community. The fact that in-migrants (in
other trades as well as in the heavy habitualmigrant crafts) frequently retained union member­
ship in locals outside the area tended to substan­
tiate this expectation.
Augusta leaders, however, pointed out that
many people connected with Camp Gordon had
stayed on after the war. A Barnwell official
stressed the unusual length of SRP construction
relative to other construction jobs; “ probably
most construction workers, not used to such long
assignments, don’t think so now,” he said, but
“ 3 years is a long time, many people will like the
place, maybe marry, get integrated, and, if jobs
are available, will stay.” Another Barnwell
leader based his expectation that a considerable
part of the current population increase would be
permanent on the probability that a substantial
number of the permanent force would be drawn
from personnel already on the project. He em­
phasized that a certain amount of construction
and maintenance work goes on long after major
facilities are completed on all such projects—a
point similarly made by one of the Aiken union
officials. Most Aiken residents wanted to avoid
any change in the town’s traditional atmosphere
and hoped to limit permanent expansion to SRP
executive personnel. But other Aiken sources
were convinced that, as SRP construction tapered
off, new industry would inevitably be attracted
to Aiken as well as to the rest of the area.

IV—Community Facilities and
Social Changes
Schools were crowded in November 1951, and
water, sewage, and other community facilities
were heavily loaded in the Savannah River Plant
(SRP) communities,25 regardless of size: the larger
communities, although having more extensive
facilities, had absorbed major population increases;
the smaller towns had more limited facilities with
which to meet the needs of even small population
additions. But expected social problems had not
been encountered, and piecemeal actions to meet
particular needs as they arose had made it possible
to absorb, without major dislocations, the more
than 10,000 SRP in-migrant workers and those
family members accompanying them. The fact
that problems had not yet “lived up to expecta­
tions” was attributed by some observers to the
SRP hiring delay (see Part I—Manpower and
Wages, p. 3). Serious dislocations were expected
when the construction force again rose sharply
and as the proportion of in-migrant workers
increased. Yet local leaders repeatedly com­
mented that “you just can’t tell what people
will decide to do.”
Planning for broad expansion of facilities was
considerable throughout 1951, particularly in
Barnwell and Augusta, where long-term develop­
ment and industrialization were being promoted.
Most of the plans, however, depended on special
Federal aid to defense communities over and above
established Federal assistance to the States—and
such aid proved disappointingly small when
finally authorized in the fall of the year. Pro­
grams were being adjusted accordingly, at the
time of this study.
Being designed to meet the immediate and
future needs of project personnel only, most of the
SRP-incurred expansion was not expected to im­
prove existing conditions. Nevertheless, some
long-term improvement would inevitably result,
local sources pointed out, either because additions
were permanent by nature (whether intended to
25 C onditions in th e site tow n s of E llen ton and D u n b arton or the “n e w ly
grow n” co m m u nities of Jackson an d N e w E llen ton in general are n o t covered
in th is su rvey.


meet temporary or permanent needs) or because
they were better than facilities previously in use.
In the larger communities, emphasis was placed
on construction of permanent rather than tem­
porary facilities, including housing as noted
previously. Further, leaders in both Aiken and
Augusta anticipated that the newcomers would
make important contributions socially and cultur­
ally as well as through added business. In
contrast, some observers anticipated that the
smaller towns would have little but a transitory
business expansion to compensate for the “head­
aches” of a large-scale influx occuring chiefly
during the period of temporary housing availability
(see p. 29.)
Community Facilities

Individual evaluations varied widely on the
current, aswell as pre-project, status of community
facilities—depending, apparently, on the individ­
ual’s viewpoint on Federal aid, long-term de­
velopment, the urgency of any existing sub­
standard conditions, and other such factors.
Furthermore, since difficulties had not been as
severe by November 1951 as had been predicted,
some sources concluded that the problem had
been altogether exaggerated; they judged the
adequancy of existing facilities accordingly, even
though the SRP construction force was far from
peak size. One Aiken union official, who had
been at the Oak Ridge atomic energy project
throughout its construction, was highly critical
of AEC’s decision against providing a Government
town, comparing SRP conditions most unfavorably
with those at the Tennessee installation.
AEC testimony before a Congressional com­
mittee in March 1951 indicated that preliminary
review of existing hospitals, schools, sewage
disposal systems, and water supply revealed
existing facilities “taxed almost to capacity.”
Most of the communities were, however, slow to
act. An Aiken resident, active in civic affairs,
pointed out that the SRP had “come as such a
shock,” and that AEC in the early days had been
unable to give them information on what had
been done. (Several others criticized AEC
sharply for moving in without any advance


planning or forewarning.) The “terrible period”
immediately after the SRP announcement had
provided both Aiken and Augusta with a preview
of the possible problems, but the difficulties
inherent in planning for future action were
Planning Problems.
Although all community
planning for facilities expansion depended on the
location of the newcomers, it was impossible
to predict with any degree of certainty the size,
character, timing, and distribution of total
population increases. AEC provided estimates
of project manpower totals and the proportion
of workers expected to be in-migrants (estimated
to be 70 percent at peak); as a basis for planning
school and housing expansion, estimates were also
made of the probable family breakdown of workers
(assuming that 60 percent of construction and a
somewhat higher proportion of operations per­
sonnel would have families) and the probable total
number of persons involved (applying the na­
tional average of 3.5 persons per family). The
obvious uncertainties inherent in these estimates
were augmented by such complications as the
in-migrant turn-over rate; the number of in­
migrants seeking jobs but not getting them; the
question of whether family members other than
the head of the household would work; the
extent to which workers’ needs would be met
by expansion of existing businesses rather than
by new commercial ventures; and, for Augusta
primarily and the others indirectly, the simul­
taneous expansion of Camp Gordon, the Augusta
Arsenal, and Veterans Administration hospital
facilities. (Local attitudes toward the SRP in
particular and long-term development in general
also helped to shape local expectations regarding
population inflow as well as community planning.)
Demonstrating the uncertainties of the situation
was the fact that estimates of the total influx at
peak construction ranged from under 60,000 to
over 180,000. (These forecasts were for the entire
SRP area, including nearby Georgia and South
Carolina counties less immediately affected than
the four referred to in this article; total 1950 popu­
lation of this area was less than 400,000.) The
180,000 was a preliminary estimate prepared by
the Federal Security Agency (FSA) in connection
with a quick survey of local facilities, existing and

needed, made at the request of AEC in February
1951. SRP hiring had barely started; housing
plans were not definite; and much of the informa­
tion on community facilities was of necessity based
on material furnished by local officials. Therefore,
when the report was submitted to Congress at that
time, FSA labeled it preliminary, with estimates
subject to revision. It nevertheless received wide
publicity in the SRP area and was extensively used
in ensuing months by community officials, most of
whom were convinced by November 1951 that the
estimates were too high.
Lack of comprehensive and accurate information
on the capacity of existing facilities was a further
complication in planning. Moreover, an extremely
limited number of specialists trained in community
affairs was available in the area to plan or take ac­
tion. As one observer pointed out, in a small
town the mayor was a businessman accustomed to
putting in perhaps a morning a week on city affairs,
and city council members were also untrained in
these fields; if the council finally reached a decision,
there was no one to carry it out. Financing was
also a serious problem for all the communities,
large and small. The bonded indebtedness of
Richmond County, for example, had already
reached its legal limit, according to local sources.
Help in assessing particular facilities and draw­
ing up requests for Federal aid was provided by
such FSA agencies as the Office of Education and
the Public Health Service. Beginning in March
1951, the National Production Authority (NPA)
maintained local offices in the area to review
requests for priorities, such as for structural steel
for Richmond County schools and steel pipe for
water connections in Aiken; in June, NPA sent an
experienced construction engineer to the area to
study needs for priorities in the community pro­
gram. The Housing and Home Finance Agency
(HHFA) advanced interest-free loans for planning
a hospital in Barnwell and additions to North
Augusta schools and Aiken water supplies. Several
of the communities hired private engineering firms
as consultants to survey and recommend action.
In addition, Augusta had a planning commissioner,
hired before the project announcement. Barnwell
employed a planning director early in 1951, whc
resigned, however, at the end of the year, and had
not been replaced by mid-1952.
Coordination of planning was difficult—both


within and between communities. Administra­
tive responsibility was divided between municipal,
county, and State authorities. In Augusta, for
example, city officials were responsible for water
and sewerage, roads, police, and recreation; the
hospital was owned by the city but run by a
separate authority; the county operated the
schools. The head of the city’s planning com­
mission, in describing it to a reporter in October
1951, attributed its progress to a system he said
was unique: the mayor and the chairman of the
county commission served on the planning board
as voting members, correlating city and county
plans and activities. City-county cooperation
was good, he said, although at the time of this
survey instances of “jockeying for position”
between officials at different levels were cited, in
some fields, as increasing the difficulties of plan­
ning and acting. Further, no single area agency
existed to plan for the increased social load, AEC
being restricted to supplying information and
cooperating in programs of local origin. (On
July 1 , 1952, the Office of Defense Mobilization
designated a local representative to coordinate
Federal activities relating to housing and com­
munity facilities and services in the area.)
South Carolina leaders had also organized the
Western Carolina Council in the early summer of
1951, made up of representatives from cities and
towns in eight counties within a 50-mile radius of
the project. Established somewhat as a chamber
of commerce for the area, the Council planned to
work for civic, economic, and social welfare and
to provide a forum for combined efforts. At a
public meeting held by the Council in Aiken in
mid-November, the chairman reported that action
taken so far had consisted mainly of several
meetings, at which information had been ex­
changed and a better understanding of mutual
problems had been attained. A committee on
welfare—first of a number planned on all types of
problems—had recently been established, with
representatives from each county and city. In
addition, the Council secretary had written
numerous letters to members of Congress and
other authorities on the need for Federal aid.
The possibility of special Federal aid, perhaps
the major factor slowing local action, influenced
all planning, and much of the initial activity of
community leaders was concentrated on esti­

mating needs for such aid. In spite of AEC’s
repeated statement that provision of facilities for
project workers would be left to the communities,
the general tendency throughout the area was to
assume that extensive Federal aid would be
forthcoming. Local and South Carolina State
officials pointed out that they had not asked for
the project, nor even been consulted about it, and
therefore the Government was responsible for
providing funds to handle the problems created
thereby. Some communities even hoped for
sufficient Federal aid to make improvements
already needed before the SUP announcement.
In one town, for example, construction of a badly
needed Negro school was delayed in the hope that
it might be financed with Federal funds.
Existing Federal assistance, designed for long­
term development, was largely limited to the inter­
est-free loans by the HHFA for planning com­
munity facilities and some aid for school and
hospital expansion. However, local expectations
were buttressed by Congressional consideration
of the draft Defense Housing and Community
Facilities and Services Act and by the recom­
mendations for extensive aid made by Federal
agencies and community leaders at hearings held
in Washington and locally during the first several
months of 1951. Aid finally authorized under the
Act (see discussion on page 25) was limited
largely to water supply and sewerage and refuse
disposal facilities. (Some provision was made for
fire and police protection, and streets and roads,
but hospitals and health centers, recreation facili­
ties, and day-care centers were excluded.) Total
funds appropriated for defense areas throughout
the country were “not enough for the project area
alone, even if we could get the whole appropria­
tion,” according to community leaders.26 One
municipal official pointed out that if it had been
understood in the very beginning that no Federal
aid would be provided, “things would have been
a lot better.” So far, he said, forecasts by Federal
agencies—as to the rate and size of in-migration,
needs, and erection of the various temporary
structures—had been wide of the mark, and “there
has not been one penny of Federal money spent in
the area except on salaries and expenses of Federal
investigators and surveyors.”
26 Congress in itia lly appropriated $15,250,000, of w h ich $4 m illion w as alio
eated to F S A and th e rem ainder to H H F A . E a rly in M arch 1952, F S A
ann ounced th a t a b o u t h a lf of th e $4 m illion w ou ld go to th e S R P c o m m u n ities.


As Congressional action was delayed throughout
the summer and it became apparent that little
aid would be authorized, community leaders
began to re-assess their plans in terms of what could
be accomplished with local and State resources,
supplemented by the limited Federal aid already
available. Re-evaluation was also being made in
the light of population increases to date. Various
comments in November 1951 suggested that the
extent of Federal responsibility, particularly for
temporary expansion, was still not clear. Some
observers continued to predict that action would
come for the most part only in response to prac­
tical and immediate needs arising in the course of
the following few years. But others said that
the communities were now alert to the problems
and ready to act.
Municipal Services. All of the communities had
programs for expanding water and sewage systems
in November 1951, to be financed partly by them­
selves and partly by Federal funds, and most had
begun to put these programs into effect. Enact­
ment of the defense housing legislation had given
impetus to community action not only because of
the new Federal aid but also because adequate
basic facilities were required for the HHFAprogrammed housing construction (see discussion
in Part III, p. 25). Facilities for this housing
(which did not depend on the new Federal aid but
were to be financed locally) were expected to be
ready by the time the first units were completed,
sometime in the spring of 1952. Although the
Federal funds, available for subsequent expansion,
were limited, one Federal authority in the area
figured they would be adequate to meet the most
urgent needs— primarily water. Application forms
and regulations for submitting requests for Federal
aid were not available in November. By mid1952, some $5 million of Federal assistance was
reported to have been approved by the HHFA and
the FSA for water- and sewer-facility projects in
SRP communities (at an estimated total cost of
nearly $10 million).
The concentration of SRP workers made the
water problem most acute in Augusta, North
Augusta, Aiken, and Barnwell at the time of this
survey. For most SRP communities, the water
problem was one of expanding treatment, pump­
ing, storage, and distribution facilities. North

Augusta, however, was also without an adequate
water supply. Its water came from springs
which reportedly did not provide a sufficient
volume during the dry periods (at which time
water was obtained via a pipe line from Augusta),
and development of a new water supply from the
Savannah River was needed. A North Augusta
businessman said the town was ready to go ahead
with a complete revamping of the waterworks
when the project was announced and they had to
“ scrap” the original plans. In November 1951,
town plans were once more complete, and the
town was awaiting defense housing funds (to cover
the cost above that originally planned) in order
to go ahead.
Both Barnwell and Aiken had employed consult­
ing engineering firms early in 1951 to recommend
needed improvements in their water and sewage
facilities, and a similar survey was under way in
Augusta in the fall. Augusta officials indicated
that the basic waterworks were sufficiently modem
to be adequate and that fortunately an extensive
and long-needed program of overhauling the water
system had been initiated prior to the project’s
announcement. Currently, they were adding the
necessary extensions to service new sections, and
the main problem noted by city officials was the
shortage of materials, notably pipe; the NPA office
in Augusta had helped a great deal in meeting
such needs, however. Aiken and Barnwell had
also laid large amounts of pipe, extending water
lines to new housing. Trailer parks and some of
the new construction outside city limits were
served by wells.
Most of the communities used septic tanks for
new construction during 1951. The South Caro­
lina communities, including Aiken and its sub­
urbs, already had a certain number of pit privies
and individual septic tank systems in addition to
whatever type of city sewage system was in use.
Augusta officials early in 1951 described their
system as in a deplorable condition, with mains
too small, the city inadequately covered, much of
the system in bad repair, and no sewage treat­
ment plant (sewage from Augusta being discharged
untreated into the river). Barnwell, too, report­
edly had inadequate facilities for the existing
population at that time, and Williston had no
sewer system at all, using pit privies and septic
tanks exclusively. The systems in the other


towns were regarded as adequate for the pre­
project population, although an Allendale real
estate man said in November 1951 that their
sewer system was “ just no good” and that the
town had therefore applied for Federal aid.
Use of wells and septic tanks in the same areas
initially caused some concern, but the wells had
to be sunk so deep to get water that contamination
was unlikely. While sewage facilities were over­
taxed, Williston had the one situation particularly
noted as dangerous in November 1951. Not
only did the town lack a sewer system but also
the houses were crowded together, making the
use of septic tanks unsafe, according to one ob­
server. New construction had aggravated a
situation already bad, he said, and health officials
feared the possibility of a typhus epidemic. He
commented incidentally that, if expansion forced
the towm to do something about its long-standing
sewage problem, the SRP would have produced
a change of permanent benefit.
Most of the trailers in the area were reported to
have their own plumbing facilities, connected to
the trailer park sewage systems. The parks were
subject to regulation, in Georgia as well as in
South Carolina where the bulk of the project
workers’ trailers were located. SRP officials
stated that there had been virtually no complaints
on trailer sanitation at the time of this survey.
In their opinion, the assistance given by the
Trailer Coach Manufacturers Association repre­
sentative to local people in setting up the trailer
courts had been a major factor in this regard.
Other municipal services requiring expansion
included police and fire departments (equipment
and personnel), street lights, street paving and
repair, garbage collection, and recreation; most of
the South Carolina towns lacked such basic
regulatory controls as housing or building codes,
or zoning ordinances. Scattered additions were
made in these fields by the various communities
throughout the period under review, as needs
became pressing. For example, North Augusta
as of August 1951 had a building and fire preven­
tion code, a third policeman and second police car
authorized, and a new garbage truck.
Some of the other communities had also ex­
panded their police forces, and, in October 1951,
the press announced that the SRP area would be
assigned perhaps 300 or more special State con­

stables for 2 years. Crime had not increased
particularly, according to local reports, but the
number of traffic violations and accidents had
soared throughout the area. For instance, the
Augusta police chief stated in October 1951 that
arrests for drunken driving, speeding, and acci­
dents had passed the 1950 total in only the first
8 months of 1951. Traffic was repeatedly cited
as one of the most critical community problems—
in terms of roads, parking, and congestion, as
well as accidents.
Community-sponsored recreation was ex­
tremely limited in the SRP area. A field repre­
sentative of the National Recreation Association
was working with the communities on developing
well-rounded recreation programs, and some
action had been taken by November. Aiken,
for example, had doubled its recreation budget,
although this was insufficient for normal needs.
But little had been done to provide recreation
for the large number of temporary construction
workers. Movies appeared to be the chief
amusement available in November 1951, and they
were regularly crowded, particularly the outdoor
drive-ins, of which several new ones had gone up
since the SRP began. Augusta’s clubs were also
said to be much frequented, and numerous small
drinking and eating places had been rapidly
constructed to serve the SRP force. Du Pont
had some company-sponsored recreational pro­
grams (basketball, softball, and bowling leagues,
and dances), it was reported, but in November
1951 the company was not planning anything
comprehensive for the construction workers.
In early July 1952, the HHFA reported that
the shortage of recreation facilities was “ a prin­
cipal unsolved problem at this time.” Indoor
and outdoor recreational facilities at the dor­
mitories and trailer camps accordingly were
being planned. Du Pont also had received AEC
approval for the operation of three recreation
areas on the site near the plant boundary lines.
Schools. Increases in school enrollments between
January 1951 and January 1952 ranged from 4
percent (80 pupils) in the Allendale school dis­
trict to 69 percent (622 pupils) in the Williston
school district,27* according to information ob­
27 B arn w ell C o u n ty ’s three school districts w ere B arn w ell, W illiston , and
B laekville; A llendale C o u n ty ’s w ere A llendale and Fairfax; A iken had nine,
of w h ich A iken, N orth A u gu sta, and E llen to n were the m ain districts affected
b y th e SR P ; R ichm on d C o u n ty w as a consolidated school district.


tained since this survey. (Numerical increases
were, of course, greater in some of the other
districts.) New enrollments in November 1951
were somewhat smaller in number and, as in
other fields, fewer than had been anticipated.
Nevertheless, existing classrooms were crowded,
and in some Barnwell County schools—reportedly
the “ hardest hit” in the area— double shifts
were necessary. All the counties had employed
additional teachers— too many in some counties
without additional buildings, according to local
Schools had already been operating with maxi­
mum enrollments before major SEP hiring began,
according to the FSA survey in early 1951. Sev­
eral classrooms in each of the four counties referred
to in this article were makeshift and, in some in­
stances, hazardous to the welfare of the children.
Aiken had more classrooms at that time than any
of the other counties; enrollments were also far
greater except for Kichmond County which, in
spite of fewer classrooms, had even more pupils
than Aiken. Kichmond County had a 2-year
school construction program already under way,
scheduled to be largely completed in the fall of
1951. Local residents stated, however, that this
program had been initiated mainly because of the
recent court decisions upholding the States’ right
to maintain segregated schools but requiring equal­
ization of facilities (SEP in-migration was expected
to affect white schools almost exclusively). In
any case, local authorities stressed that this con­
struction had been scheduled to provide only for a
normal growth.28 Many of the school districts in
the area were heavily pressed as far as teacherpupil ratio was concerned,29 and, according to some
local authorities, many teachers had less than
the desirable professional qualifications.
Since SEP hiring did not start until over half
the 1950-51 school year had been completed, tim­
ing created fewer problems in planning school facil­
ities than in other fields, but again the extent of
the increased load was difficult to predict. Added
to the basic uncertainties as to size and distribution
38 B o th Sou th Carolina and Georgia w ere greatly increasing S tate ed u ca ­
tion al ou tla y s in 1951, which w ould benefit S R P operations personnel b u t were
n o t exp ected to h elp solve th e problem s of th e S R P construction period.
29 A ccording to a co m m u n ity resources su rvey b y an engineering firm en­
gaged b y D u P o n t, th e ratio in th e w h ite schools in th e six m ain nonsite
Sou th Carolina tow n s ranged from 1:27.1 in B arn w ell to 1:41.2 in A ik en and
1 :41.6 in N orth A ugusta.

of population increases were questions concerning
the families brought in by workers: number of
school-age children; level of schooling required;
applicability of the 0.7 national average of school
children per family to a large migrant construction
force;30 and the possibility that workers arriving
after the the start of the school year would leave
their children in school in the communities from
which they came. Also children of site residents
moving into nearby communities would swell en­
rollments somewhat, particularly in Negro schools.
Some Federal assistance was available for school
construction under legislation enacted before the
current emergency period. In June 1951, Con­
gress authorized the Commissioner of Education
to set aside from existing appropriations the funds
necessary to provide school facilities in areas
declared critical by the President,31 and, on the
basis of the SEP manning schedule and estimates
of anticipated housing (including temporary), the
Office of Education and local school authorities
worked out a program for the area. Federal aid
granted could be used either for permanent or
temporary school structures. Kichmond County
elected to use funds placed at its disposal (because
of Camp Gordon as well as the SEP) only for
enlargement of permanent school structures, certi­
fying that such construction would meet temporary
as well as permanent needs. Aiken and Barnwell
Counties claimed funds for both permanent and
temporary school buildings, and Allendale planned
only temporary structures.
A total of 187 temporary classrooms accordingly
were scheduled to be put up in the three counties
for the academic year 1951-52, the largest alloca­
tions being made to Aiken and North Augusta.
Invitations to bid for the supply and erection of
the temporary buildings had not been distributed
by November 1951, however. Some observers
still expected that the buildings might be available
for use early in 1952, but one local authority
pointed out that use of demountables did not
mean simply setting up a quonset and “ running
the children into it.” Although the metal walls
could be put up and taken down readily, he said,
wiring, plumbing, toilets, heating, and so on had
*0 T railer su rv ey s in th e sum m er of 1951 suggested th a t th e average w as
considerab ly low er, aDd th e Office of E d u cation p erm itted use of a figure no
higher th an 0.5 in a p p ly in g for Federal aid.
31 A m en d m en ts providing for m ore exten sive Federal aid to schools were
“ pocket-vetoed’* b y th e P resid en t late in 1951.


to be installed and had to meet certain standards.
Little information was available as to whether
Augusta school construction was on schedule, and
none of the federally aided permanent construc­
tion had been started in Aiken or Barnwell, al­
though Aiken had obtained some land.
Increased enrollments affected conditions in the
various school districts unevenly, reflecting the
pre-project size and school capacity of the com­
munity as well as the actual size of the increase.
Aiken had a numerically greater increase than did
Barnwell, but the secretary of the Aiken Chamber
of Commerce indicated that in general school
facilities had proved adequate so far. In con­
trast, some Barnwell schools were not only oper­
ating on a double shift but classes were being held
in churches, the Masonic temple, etc.; at the
same time, the number of teachers recruited had
been based on the assumption that temporary
family housing would be available in the fall.
Teachers must be hired for a full school term, and
all those newly hired would be needed if, before
the end of the current term, an influx of pupils
materialized in the numbers originally anticipated.
Otherwise, according to a local official, fewer addi­
tions would have been adequate, and the added
outlay for salaries represented an unnecessary
financial drain, for which funds had been diverted
from other needed activities. Some Augusta
residents pointed to the new schools completed or
under construction and, while admitting that
existing schools were crowded,^were confident that
no serious difficulties would occur. Others main­
tained that Augusta schools were “ overflowing,”
cited examples of unsafe schools and classes held
in buildings other than schools, and doubted
whether the new schools, even when completed,
would be adequate.
The temporary buildings, once erected, were
expected to be sufficient for project-connected
children (as well as those of former site residents
in these communities), provided employment
schedules were not changed (see discussion on
p. 3) and Richmond County’s permanent
school construction program was successfully car­
ried out. By mid-1952, 37 temporary school
rooms had been completed in Aiken County
(15 classrooms at Jackson; 8 at North Augusta
and 12 others in the North Augusta school district;
and 2 for Negro pupils at New Ellenton) and 5 in

Allendale County (Fairfax); 32 had been com­
pleted but not yet accepted by school officials in
Barnwell County (15 classrooms for white and 7
for Negro students at Willis ton and 10 for Negro
children at Barnwell).
Queried on the long-run effect of the project,
several observers commented that the demountables, while regarded as temporary, would be
superior to some local structures which had out­
side toilets and no central heating or hot water.
If the demountables were not taken down after
the construction period, they might actually con­
stitute some net improvement of school facilities
for the area. School standards, professional quali­
fications of teachers, and so on continued to
occasion some concern, both for the current period
and over the long run. An Aiken resident, com­
menting that a large proportion of the teachers
were new, said that many were young people “ just
out of school” and inexperienced in handling
students sometimes little younger than themselves.
Hospitals. Additional beds had been made avail­
able in Aiken and Augusta hospitals to meet
increased population needs as of November 1951,
but it was generally conceded that the main pres­
sure from SRP in-migration was yet to come.
Pre-project plans for substantial hospital expansion
in Augusta, already the area’s medical center, were
revised somewhat after the SRP announcement,
and plans were drawn for a small hospital in
Barnwell County, which had no hospital. When
provisions for hospital aid were eliminated from
the defense housing legislation at the last minute,
local officials urged AEC financing for planned
hospital expansion. Project officials, however,
continued to regard this as a local responsibility.
Further, various authorities in the area still dis­
agreed in November 1951 on both the extent of the
need and the best way of increasing capacity.
The costly and lengthy nature of hospital con­
struction, and the difficulties of obtaining addi­
tional physicians and nurses made existing facili­
ties and plans already in progress particularly
important in this field. Augusta’s University
Hospital was the only large hospital in the im­
mediate SRP area,32 and one observer noted that
it was virtually the only one with an adequate staff
of doctors (nurses, a critical occupation nationally,

T w o V eterans A d m in istra tio n h osp itals w ere also located in A ugusta.


were in short supply in all of the hospitals).
Described as old and in need of remodeling and
renovation, it had some 475 beds and a high
occupancy rate at the time of the FSA survey; a
200-bed addition to the hospital had been planned
before the SEP. A new 100-bed hospital was
already under construction at that time, scheduled
to be completed in the spring of 1952; it was being
constructed with Federal assistance granted under
the Hospital Survey and Construction Act (HillBurton), designed to assist long-range State plans
and requiring substantial local contributions. In
addition, the Georgia State Legislature had
authorized the sale of bonds for construction of a
750-bed State teaching hospital in Augusta.
The University Hospital had many South Caro­
lina patients because of its proximity and the lack
of comparable staff or facilities in the South Caro­
lina counties. So-called “ problem cases” in Aiken
County, for example, were sent to Augusta.33 With
a recent addition constructed with the aid of HillBurton funds, Aiken County General Hospital
(that county’s only hospital) had approximately
150 beds at the time of the SRP announcement,
but a number were not then in use, reportedly
because of the shortage of nurses. Allendale
General Hospital had 27 beds, generally regarded
as adequate to meet SRP-incurred needs.33
By converting private rooms to semiprivate,
approximately 100 beds had been added to the
University Hospital as of November 1951. At a
series of fall 1951 meetings, project and Federal
and State health officials discussed the desirability
as well as the financing of revised plans for ex­
pansion of the hospital. Attention was called
to the nonavailability of steel for hospital con­
struction, the possibility that extra beds or addi­
tions which would use existing central facilities
might be sufficient to meet temporary needs, and
the importance of avoiding construction of facili­
ties which might be superfluous after the SRP
construction period. According to recent informa­
tion, a Hill-Burton project for approximately
$1 million for renovating and improving Uni­
versity Hospital was approved early in 1952. No
new beds were to be added, however; neither
State nor Federal Public Health officials would
33 Or to O rangeburg C o u n ty (adjacent to A ik en and B arn w ell C ounties on
the ea st). T h is co u n ty had a 200-bed general hospital w h ich served five
coim ties, in clu d in g B arn w ell and A llendale, an d several sm all sp ecialty

approve financial aid for expanding the hospital
because of the new State Hospital. (A Federal
grant also had been urged for the latter— to cover
the added costs of accelerating its construction
and thereby make it available for part of the SRP
construction period; with no such aid authorized,
the hospital was not scheduled for completion in
less than 3 to 4 years.)
The extra beds in the Aiken hospital had been
put in use by mid-1951, and in November con­
sideration was given to opening up an unfinished
floor (with a 30-bed capacity) in the pre-project
addition. A local leader, interviewed at that time,
said that this floor could presumably take care of
the added population but that the additional staff
required would be very difficult to get. Another
Aiken resident, active in hospital work, commented
that lack of nurses had already forced them to
employ untrained aides.
Apart from hospital capacity, health depart­
ments in the counties affected were generally
described as understaffed and short of money.
Commercial Facilities.
Many new businesses
came into the SRP area during the period under
review, and sales expanded rapidly. Numerous
corner grocery stores, filling stations, drug stores,
and other small enterprises had opened up, as
well as the new drive-in theaters, super-markets,
restaurants, and “ beer joints,” already cited.
With one or two exceptions, however, all sources
agreed that the major portion of business expan­
sion had been by existing local firms. Some
people attributed this to resistance of local in­
terests to entrance of new enterprises until existing
firms had all the business they could handle;
others pointed out the temporary nature of SRP
demand and the shortage of construction materials.
New commercial construction had been limited,
and a long-time Augusta resident cited examples
of local firms expanding into adjacent buildings or
converting old houses to stores.
Some of this expansion had occurred in the
South Carolina communities, principally in Aiken.
But the principal expansion was in Augusta,
commercial center for the whole area. Retail
sales jumped 34 percent during the first 5 months
of 1951 over the volume in the corresponding
period of 1950, and the increase in department
store sales was considerably higher than the


national average. Between the fall of 1950 and a
year later, circulation of the two newspapers rose
from 54,000 to 73,000, and newsprint tonnage
used increased 30 percent because of the new busi­
ness and increased advertising; airline passenger
traffic, airmail, and long distance telephone calls
roughly doubled; the local transit company
ordered new buses, added routes, and increased
schedules; and bank clearings set a new record,
the figure for the first 9 months of 1951 exceeding
any other year's total clearings.
The SRP’s large share in Augusta’s expansion
was exceeded by the proportion attributed to
Camp Gordon’s reactivation at that time. The
secretary of the Chamber of Commerce pointed
out that Augusta was the only town near the
Camp; not only did the Camp personnel and their
families living in Augusta spend money there, but
also families and friends visiting them or ordering
things for them locally. In contrast, business
from project workers was dispersed among the
various SRP towns; in his experience, many
project people did not bring their families, at
least not immediately, and much of their pay was
therefore sent home and did not benefit the area.
Recent information indicates, however, that as
construction progressed, SRP payrolls became the
major factor in Augusta’s continuing business
Social Problems and Changes
Both short-run social problems and long-range
social and cultural changes were still expected at
the time of this survey. The former were antici­
pated largely in connection with the temporary
barracks to be put up in the smaller towns, which
had been reduced in number and were relatively
little occupied by mid-1952, as noted. The longrange changes were predicted mainly in the com­
munities where the permanent workers were
expected to settle, and a variety of local sources
indicated in November 1951 that, even at that
early date, such changes were becoming evident.
Social Problems. Except for isolated instances,
few local residents interviewed in November 1951
had observed any increase in crime, juvenile
delinquency, prostitution, or other such social
problems—in spite of the large number of people
who had already arrived in the area and the
genera] lack of recreation facilities. Lack of

major social problems was attributed by some
people to the dispersal of workers’ homes among
several established communities. Others sug­
gested that, because of Augusta’s relatively greater
facilities, the concentration of single workers there
had tended to minimize the problems or at least
had made them less apparent to local residents.
Still others, however, pointed out that recreation
was a more important problem for single men,
and emphasized once more the change in the
migrant force to men accompanied by families.
Augusta was frequently described as having
“ always been a wide-open town” and local resi­
dents said that “ entertainment on the light side”
had increased substantially since the SRP and
Camp Gordon expansion. In September 1951, a
Superior Court judge in Augusta, commenting
favorably on the newly opened “ Teen Town” (a
center sponsored by the Junior Women’s Club),
said that “ the increasing trend toward crime and
law violation by teen-agers” bad been brought
forcibly to his attention from first-hand observa­
tion. Some local officials described “ a lot of
drunkenness” in Augusta, but several residents
said that if crime and drunkenness had increased
it “ wasn’t obvious to the average citizen.” Most
people contrasted conditions with those during the
war, when Augusta was flooded with unattached
servicemen from Camp Gordon, and stressed that
even with the “ double expansion,” of the Camp
and the SRP, the problems were not as great.
The smaller numbers of single workers in the
South Carolina towns, most of whom reportedly
went to Augusta for entertainment, had similarly
created few new problems, although organized
prostitution was reported to have “ hit” Aiken in
the early fall of 1951 and some sources described
a “ rather bad situation” in Ellen ton and New
Ellenton. Local fears concerning trailers had also
proved unfounded, according to various observers;
they were regarded as unlikely to create future
special problems for nearby communities. Em­
phasis was laid on the fact that trailer migrants
“regard their trailers as their homes these days,”
and also that only the better-paid workers could
afford to buy trailers.34
3* Trailers were priced in th e area at from abou t $1,500 for a used 1-bedroom
trailer to som e $5,000 for a n ew 2-bedroom trailer, w ith a one-third downpaym en t required. A ccording to a Trailer Coach M anufacturers A ssociation
survey, the annual incom e of th e average trailer resident top p ed th e national
average, being over $4,000 on both th e E a st and W est Coasts.


Those South Carolina towns scheduled to have
temporary barracks located near them, however,
continued to be apprehensive over the arrival of
such a large body of single workers. Barnwell
officials, for example, with the prospect of “ 1,500
strangers in town,” feared trouble even though the
men would probably go to Augusta for amuse­
ment. They were reported to have under con­
sideration the barring of construction workers
from local events, such as the regular square
dances, or, if necessary, the elimination of such
activities during the period of major influx.
Allendale officials were even more concerned; if
the site were closed to traffic, Augusta would be
nearly 70 miles around the site from Allendale
and the nearest city in the other direction was
even farther. One observer said that Allendale
was not even attempting to plan, but “ just throws
up its hands in despair.”
Welfare authorities, particularly at the State
level, were “ definitely awake to the problems”
which could arise, according to local observers in
November 1951. Welfare activities had already
increased substantially in the area. In Augusta,
an integrated welfare council had been organized,
which had established a community chest organi­
zation and had helped such private agencies as the
Travelers’ Aid and the National Recreation Asso­
ciation to establish themselves and the Red Cross
to increase its organization. In the fall, the
Augusta YW CA announced plans for an expanded
program and representatives of the national Y
spent a few days in the area, studying the problems
and helping formulate plans; by November classes
for women had been started, and a day nursery.
The American Social Hygiene Association also
sent a representative to Aiken in the early fall,
and, at local request, again in November, to discuss
the possibility of arranging a leadership training
institute in the handling of problems which had
developed elsewhere with large groups of migrant
workers. The danger of such difficulties arising
was also discussed at the Western Carolina
Council’s November meeting, in connection with
the council’s new welfare committee.
The churches, numbering over 150 in the
Augusta metropolitan area according to the Cham­
ber of Commerce, were also reported to be expand­
ing their activities. A newly appointed area

director for the National Council of Churches had
arrived in the area just prior to this survey.
Social and Cultural Changes. One Augusta “ oldtimer” was voluble on how “ the place is full of
strangers . . . You have to wait in line for
movies . . . The town even looks different.” ;
similar comments were frequently quoted. M ost
community leaders interviewed, however, indi­
cated that the temporary construction workers
had been accommodated without noticeable fric­
tion, although they were not “ a part of the com­
munity” to any great degree. Workers living in
trailers outside Aiken, for example, came in to
town to market but otherwise were fairly selfsufficient in their trailer communities. In the
opinion of some observers, those workers who
lived in rooms also regarded themselves as too
transient to be interested in local affairs and
tended to mix largely with other SRP workers.
Permanent AEC and Du Pont operations staff,
on the other hand, residing chiefly in Aiken and
Augusta, were repeatedly described as having
become remarkably well integrated. Both SRP
and local residents remarked that at first the
Aiken people resented the newcomers, but grad­
ually they had been accepted and by November
were “ pretty well assimilated.” Many were even
active in community affairs.
Aiken and Augusta leaders consistently empha­
sized that they expected these new permanent
residents to make a large social and cultural con­
tribution. The head of the Augusta YW CA
pointed out, for example, that some of the newly
arrived SRP women had worked in the Community
Chest drive, and that benefit thus had been derived
from other communities’ experience in such activ­
ities. The concert organization in Aiken had more
members than ever before, making possible a
“ bigger and better” concert program. Formation
of Aiken chapters of the American Association of
University Women and League of Women Voters
was also under discussion. A major reason given
for the SRP women’s desire to form a League
chapter quickly was their discovery that they
would be ineligible to vote in the 1952 Presidential
election; South Carolina required 2 years’ resi­
dence to establish the right to vote, in contrast to
the 1-year requirement in Georgia and elsewhere.
The group mentioned wanted to work for a change
in the law, according to local sources, and, even


though that was impossible before the coming
election, to make their opinions heard.
Several persons interviewed also expected the
newcomers to have a “healthy” effect on local
politics. More than one Augusta resident pointed
out that the incoming people had different ideas,
were not committed to local parties, and would
have the right to vote after a year’s residence.
They were a sizable enough group, these residents
suggested, to “worry” the local politicians, who
might modify existing policies to gain their sup­
port. This was a particularly opportune moment
for any such change, it was pointed out, since one
of the two major parties in Augusta (both being
wings of the Democratic Party) had split in the
fall 1951 mayoralty election, and party lines and
policies were in process of being reshaped.
All the new ideas and experience which the new­
comers brought to the area and the mingling of
people from all over the country would also even­
tually produce a change in local attitudes, most

sources agreed. Augusta’s new interest in welfare
was largely attributed to the new residents, and
Augusta officials were being “stirred up” and
made aware of inadequate conditions, according
to some people. The new arrivals could not vote
yet, but they could talk, write letters, and other­
wise exert pressure and make the needs clear.
Again it was emphasized that such effects had
not yet been fully felt. Less than a year had
elapsed since the SRP announcement; many SRP
personnel did not bring their wives and families
immediately; and the temporary expansion had
not reached its peak. Many local residents con­
tinued, of course, to view the question of change in
terms of a “3-year temporary disruption” and to
expect a return to the “status quo” when the con­
struction workers departed. Most local leaders
interviewed on this subject, however, seemed to
share the opinion of the Barnwell official, who
said: “You can’t bring several thousand people
to a town of under 2,000 and not have change.”